Clarice Jensen – For This From That Will Be Filled

For This From That Will Be Filled is the debut solo album from cellist Clarice Jensen. Releasing on Miasmah, her album includes a co-written piece with Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (on ‘bc’), who sadly passed away in February. Jensen is artistic director of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), and from 2009 until 2018 they often collaborated and toured with Jóhannsson. The long sustains of ‘bc’ take on more of a sombre air in light of his passing, coming off as painfully-sad and poignant music which lingers mournfully in the air. This piece of music will now forever be etched in loss, and in that respect the music acts as a wonderful torch of a tribute.

The future’s never seen, but ‘bc’ is a weighted and tonally-low piece, acting as a semi-premonition with its three-chord-loop, a graduating sister to punk’s more aggressive, three-chord school, but ageing and refining itself as it journeys through the years, with a large cup of Earl Grey tea replacing careless teen-swigs of cerveza. The music’s nowhere near punk, but it realizes it lives in a loud world where actions are amplified. It’s dislocated and doubtful of itself, because in one sense the music is ambient-minded, but it’s susceptible to frenetic build-ups and speedy assaults on the streets of its mind, adding a disorientating effect, a confusion of vertigo. There’s a great amount of care here, and the sweeping sustains are a reversal of their original intent: celebration-turned-eulogy, white-become-black.

‘Cello Constellations’ uses multi-tracked cellos – 25 of them – and the use of sine tones, creating a transcendent seventeen-minute trip that stares into a glowing, brightening harmony. Its subtle changes in volume are met by a friendly, gently thrumming bass, and the piece appears to float freely, unburdened in its weightless spiral. Jensen herself has said that the album solicits ‘meditation and disorientation’, which is evident both in her textured, maze-like layering and rotational looping.

Originally conceived as an audio-visual collaboration between Jensen and artist Jonathan Turner, the album is an audio-only experience, although Turner’s artwork, based on a live performance, paints the cover. In addition to this, four music videos using images from the performance projections will be released online, simulating an interior and the listener’s role within it. As it ends, the music sheds its skin, unravelling its outer layers and stripping off its other tonal attire until only a single, Eve-like cello is left, a lone, beautiful soul in an alarming world whose night music consists of traffic-noise and extroversion.

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