Black Truffle is pleased to present Sylva Sylvarum, an epic new work from Ora Clementi, the collaborative project of crys cole and James Rushford. Primarily conceived and recorded over several months together in Melbourne, Sylva Sylvarum is a stunning step forward from the mumbled, creaking sound world of the duo’s debut, Cover You Will Softer Me (Penultimate Press, 2014). From the opening ‘Peach of Immortality’, which takes an unpredictable journey from layers of chiming bells, vocal harmonies and lush synth pads to a desolate landscape of half-animal, half-digital wooshes and cries, it is immediately clear that cole and Rushford are working here with an entirely unique sound palette. Throughout the record’s four sides, we hear a large array of carefully detailed synthesizer sounds (many of them recorded at the remarkable Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio), sparse drum machine hits, wind instruments and field recordings of animals, often with a twistedly late 80s/early 90s flavour that at various points calls up New Age references, Robert Ashley’s later operas or the thinned-out textures of early digital GRM.
Threaded through this distinctive array of sounds are the two musicians’ voices, sometimes singing, sometimes speaking through varying degrees of manipulation. A guiding thread through the pair’s collaboration, beginning with their initial experiments with lip-readings, the presence of these two voices – cole’s crisp and sibilant, Rushford’s rich and low – reinforces the sense that the music is immersed in itself, less performed by two people than occurring between them. On Sylva Sylvarum, these voices first come to the forefront on the third piece, ‘Dialogue Between a Grandmaster of the Knights Hospitaller and a Genoese Sea Captain’, where in unison they intone fragments of a description of an imaginary space taken from a 17th century utopian text. The two voices resurface periodically thereafter, most stunningly in the unexpected turn into cushiony dream pop on ‘Magic Mountain’. At other points, the subtle manipulation of pitch and intonation in the close-miked vocal performances filters the recitations through a fog of abstraction that climaxes with the almost incomprehensible alternating syllables of the side-long closer ‘Forest of Materials’.
Black Truffle, 2021
crys cole is a Canadian sound artist working in composition, improvised performance and sound installation. Generating subtle and imperfect sounds through haptic gestures and seemingly mundane materials, she creates textural works that continuously retune the ear.
cole has ongoing collaborations with James Rushford (AU) (as Ora Clementi) and Oren Ambarchi (AU) and has worked recently with Francis Plagne (AU), Leif Elggren (SW), Tetuzi Akiyama (JP), David Rosenboom (US), Keith Rowe (UK), Seiji Morimoto (JP/DE), Jessika Kenney (US), Tim Olive (JP/CA) and many more. Her work has been published by Black Truffle (AU), Penultimate Press (UK), Ultra Eczema (BE), caduc. (CA), Bocian (PL), Another Timbre (UK) and Infrequency editions (CA/DE). She has performed and exhibited her work worldwide.
James Rushford is an Australian composer-performer. His work is drawn from a familiarity with specific concrète, improvised, avant-garde and collagist languages. Currently, his work deals with the aesthetic concept of musical shadow.
As a composer, James has been commissioned by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Glasgow), Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Neon (Oslo), Speak Percussion, Synergy Percussion, Ensemble Vortex (Geneva), Ensemble Offspring, Soundstream, The Song Company, Decibel, Melbourne International Arts Festival (2006/2008), Norway Ultima Festival (2011), Unsound Festival (New York 2014) and Liquid Architecture Festival (2010).
As a performer, he has presented work at STEIM Institute (Amsterdam), Logos Foundation (Ghent), Issue Project Room (New York), Instants Chavirés (Montreuil), Constellation (Chicago), Super Deluxe (Tokyo), Blank Forms (New York), Monday Evening Concerts (Los Angeles), Cave12 (Geneva), Send & Receive Festival (Winnipeg), WORM (Rotterdam), Centre for Contemporary Art (Warsaw), Only Connect Festival (Oslo), Now Now (2011/2012), Adelaide Festival (2014), Melbourne International Jazz Festival (2011) and the Tectonics Festival (Adelaide 2014, New York 2015, Tel Aviv 2015). He has also performed live with the Krakow Sinfonietta, Australian Art Orchestra, Michel Pisaro, Eyvind King, David Behrman and Jon Rose.
James has collaborative projects with Joe Talia, Golden Fur (with Samuel Dunscombe & Judith Hamann), Ora Clementi (with crys cole), Will Guthrie, Oren Ambarchi, Klaus Lang, Kassel Jaeger, Annea Lockwood, Graham Lambkin, Francis Plagne, Tashi Wada, the visual artist Michael Salerno and the writer Dennis Cooper.
His music has been published by Pogus (US), Prisma (Norway), Bocian (Poland), Penultimate Press (UK), Black Truffle (AUS), Holidays (IT) and KYE (US).
James holds a Doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts, and was a 2018 fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart.