130701/FatCat | LP LP13-51 | CD13-51 | DA13-51
Release date: October 21. 2022
Track listing :
All music composed by Clarice Jensen
Available on LP, CD, and digital download: Pre-Order
Clarice Jensen returns on 130701 with her third album, Esthesis, a deep and gorgeous new work conceptually structured around the emotional and harmonic spectrum and the phenomenon of chromesthesia – a condition whereby sound involuntarily evokes an experience of color, shape and movement. From its opening piano notes, Esthesis gently upends expectations built up over previous albums. Shifting and extending Jensen’s sound in line with the adventurousness of the Drone Studies and Platonic Solids EPs, the album is less reliant on her trademark razor-sharp, processed cello drone. Performed heavily on synth, as well as her more usual cello and electronics, it also features the piano playing of Timo Andres (tracks 1, 4 and 5) and the voices of Laura Lutzke, Francesca Federico and Emma Broughton (on tracks 3 and 6). While the drone is never far away, there is a sense of more light and space across the album.
Esthesis was originally conceived in pre-pandemic times as a concert experience, structured to comprise a series of long drones, each centered on a single key/pitch and cycling sequentially through the circle of fifths from C to F. Jensen imagined the audience being bathed in colored lights that corresponded to each drone, with those colors combined or oscillating during the songs in an effort to mimic or induce chromesthesia: a trip through the complete spectrum of color, (Western) pitch and emotion.
With the pandemic dashing these plans and ushering in a period where it was even difficult to imagine live performance anymore, Jensen instead set out to realize the concept as an album palpably created in enforced solitude and isolation. “I expanded my usual palette of layered and treated cellos without the effect of a more grandiose or large-scale feeling of timbre; I wished to employ additional media in an effort to further portray the idea of isolation and containment,” she explains.
Each track on Esthesis evokes a different principal emotion using seemingly one-dimensional titles, with Jensen’s intention being to juxtapose the depths of these emotions with the reality-overlay of solitude. Jensen says, “It calls to question how sensation can be rudimentary. Imposed isolation and the fear of viral exposure led many to seek sensation by streaming television, circulating memes, and sharing delayed laughs with loved ones across computer screens – all of this done alone and somewhat removed through various media, and set against a backdrop of very real fear.”
While the "removed" nature of each track/emotion remains deliberate, so also exists the very realness of the emotion itself. Jensen says, “'Joy' evokes vernal lightness and promise, and came to me as I was falling asleep and realized I was still smiling thinking about someone I love. 'Sadness'; is a setting of Purcell's Dido's Lament. 'Liking' begins with tentative hope and then blossoms, using an additive compositional process, whereas 'Disliking' is subtractive. ‘Anger' uses text taken from Simone de Beauvoir's letters to Nelson Algren. 'Fear' attempts to simply portray breathing and absence. The organs used on 'Love'suggest hallowed spaces, employing only a short progression that always returns to the same but becomes layered, out-of-sync and lost, but simplest at its end.”
Recorded by Jensen in upstate New York and expertly mixed by Francesco Donadello, the record was mastered by Matthew Agoglia.