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Karren. OLIVIA BLOCK
(Sedimental 2013)

Review by Patrick Farmer

Block writes in her liner notes that Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical metaphor described in The Presentation of Self in Every Day Life is a lens through which the entire composition, presented on vinyl, might be viewed as a metaphor for the self. After reading this I began to play with the thought that I can’t help but love finding myself at a loss for certain meanings of words. I’m sure I could think of many things to say about this release that would conform to a neat and tidy review. I have indeed said out loud many things to friends. But now I find myself at a place in which the written word is drawn up as a facilitator in order to postulate a sense of what it is to listen, or be listened to, rather than what it is to listen to something (influenced, as it were, by listening to something.) Over and over I feel that Karren presents a change of heart and that I am consciously presenting a reaction more so than an opinion. It’s as if I am a crowd of people hearing sentences a split second before they are written. Karren and the mutating language begin to influence the subsequent language about listening and being listened to. Altering the consideration of the language then being written. This language about listening has thus already been listened to. Block here shows what I am unable to say.

I tend to question what listening is more than I actually listen at the moment, ironic I know. And so often whilst I listen I can’t help but think that what I’m listening to is barely what I have been hearing. Wittgenstein once said that if someone is merely ahead of his time, it will catch up to him one day. Right now I take this and think about how I am always catching up to my listening; that once I am convinced I am listening I am not anymore, that I am hearing again before I once again begin to catch up. Listening always retains the possibility of no fixed location, thus it can be fixed, as well it can’t. Karren provides a possibility of listening as something that can facilitate this most fundamental of polarised reactions as it spreads out over a crowd. It can be simple enjoyment and quiet muster, it can be cause for a deliberate scene of placement and appointment, though I haven’t quite got to that yet, I’m still reveling in the former as if I’d never experienced it before. And it’s true, partly true, I haven’t, for quite some time experienced this before, in fact very few albums recently have even come close to lending this state of attentive carelessness on my behalf.

I’m unashamedly employing a layered idea rather than entertaining any sort of attitude. I feel a special sort of fool’s license in which I am trying to avoid describing this LP in terms of images. In which language is itself the image rather than the allusion of a possible image. Like a dream in which the individual is listening to the same memory through a hundred ears. I can’t help but consider that when I listen to this I am listening to it from the perspective of sound itself rather than with my own ears and my own crowded mind. Or anyway, it’s as if my ears are vibrating to the point that I can feel them shimmer. Is it possible to hear your own ears? Or for ears to hear themselves? Turning round again, it might be that right now I’m thinking, that Block has led me to thinking, that I am what is being listened to and that what I am listening to is the one doing the listening. Both are trying to catch up to the other and so it is inevitable that they will eventually collide. Karren has in many ways surpassed any expectation I may have not known I had.

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Olivia Block website
Sedimental website