See: The video for claire rousay’s ‘Peak Chroma’: Texas improviser’s hazy, wonk-pop collage heralds an April album for American Dreams

claire rousay (left) and Dani Toral, photographed by Jordan Reyes

LAUDED San Antonio improviser of deep, moving complexity claire rousay has announced she has a new album out in early April for American Dreams, a softer focus, which news will certainly be firing up and down the bush telegraph for those of us who like our music weird and delightful and interrogative; and by way of capping that announcement off, she’s released a video for a lead track, “Peak Chroma”, directed by friend and collaborator Dani Toral, who supplied all of the visual elements for the album.

“Peak Chroma” is nearly seven minutes of chiming, breathing drone, deft field recording, robotically fractured and processed vocal melodies; all collaged together for immersion, and comes with a visual dimension which flows through past moments of claire and Dani’s shared moments.

claire says: “‘Peak Chroma’ is one of two tracks on a softer focus featuring sung lyrical content. The lyrics for it started as an iPhone Notes entry.

“This entry was a reminder to not fall into traps of nostalgia and the second-guessing that sometimes follows that. Reminiscing on something that not only is in the past but is something that is never coming back.” 

Dani spoke at length about what she brought to the song visually: “The ‘Peak Chroma’ music video was made using collected footage in and around my studio, where Claire and I spent a lot of our time working on ‘a softer focus'”, she says.

“From some of the audio in the album, to press photos and whistles, to almost the entire music video, my studio became a very central space for this project – one of the tracks is even named after it.

“The video captures a balance of stillness and movement with sections of repetitive and meditative motion mimicking a flow state of creation we both experience in our practice.

“The cohesion of the music video with the album art and audio was very important; hence the correlations of the portal-like entries to a dream state which is the feeling we wanted to create in this entire project.

“This video feels like you’re in a familiar dream, one of warmth and comfort through overlapping and superimposed images of Claire and I working or doing mundane tasks. The ‘Peak Chroma’ video shares intimate moments of our experience working together, and documents the essence of ‘a softer focus.'”

claire and Dani have been in each others’ orbit since young adulthood in San Antonio, but it’s taken a decade for them to finally work together; something claire always knew she wanted to do. Dani created the artwork, the visual narrative, even the ceramic whistles that accompany one of the limited vinyl pressings, assisted with the song titles; brought the album title to the table; it’s also a central motif, indicating the meditative, otherly state of the creative process.

Whereas previously claire has operated right out at the far fringes of experimental sound collage – see our review of the fierce plunderphonics of last year’s Tuufuhhoowaah, here – on a softer focus she’s come in towards melody, even a wonky, impressionistic pop.

claire will also be live-streaming a release show for a softer focus at 3.30pm Pacific Daylight Time (10.30pm GMT) on April 10th. Admission is $10; the show will be airing on Bandcamp. Tickets and more information here.

claire rousay’s a softer focus will be released by American Dreams Records digitally, on CD and on vinyl on April 9th; there’s also very, very limited test pressings (seven only), a coloured vinyl pressing with a ceramic whistle (30 only) and other merchandise. Pre-order your copy at claire’s Bandcamp page.

Connect with claire at her website and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; and Dani at her website.

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