3.April.2011 / Olivia Block / Maps and Fields / The International Nothing > (Kai Fagaschinski >& Michael Thieke) / Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nothing (But Were Afraid to Ask)


The International Nothing made a rare appearance in their hometown this Sunday, treating us to an inside view of Kai Fagaschinski’s and Michael Thieke’s unique process of working together as composer-performers over the last 10 years. This included performances of “Dichtung und Wahrheit,” “Beat ‘Em All,” and “Crystal Clear Fog,” as well as demonstrations of personal clarinet techniques and notations, and the most poetic definition of difference tones we’ve ever heard.

Olivia Block presented a new version of “The Garden,” an electro-acoustic collage of instrumental and field recordings, and shared stories of her unusual backgrounds in visual art, music, and anthropology. Discussion of Michel Chion’s three ways of listening and of collecting sounds in recycling plants provoked an array of personal responses from the audience regarding their perception of the work.

Die akustische und elektro-akustische Musik von The International Nothing und der US-Amerikanerin Olivia Block versucht, auf unterschiedliche Art den Zuhörer zu umhüllen. Während The International Nothing ausschließlich mit sensiblem, unverstärktem instrumentalem Material arbeitet, verbindet Olivia Block in vorsichtiger Weise „Field Recordings“, elektronische Bearbeitung sowie instrumentale Samples, um eine introspektive Klangwelt zu erschaffen.

The acoustic and electro-acoustic music of The International Nothing and Olivia Block both propose different approaches to enveloping the listener. While The International Nothing works exclusively with sensitive unamplified instrumental material, Olivia Block carefully combines field recordings, electronic processing, and instrumental samples to create introspective sound worlds.

The International Nothing (Berlin)

Kai Fagaschinski and Michael Thieke started working together as a clarinet duo in 2000. In 2003 they shifted their project towards the composition of pieces focusing on tone material. In a kind of pipe-organ style they merge the two clarinets into one complex sound, which often sounds like more than two voices, through the comforts that multiphonics and difference tones offer. The pieces have a warm and slowed down quality, which might be associated with electronic music.

So far, the duo has performed its music in Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, and the USA, including festival appearances at Donaueschinger Musiktage (2007), Konfrontationen (Nickelsdorf 2008), Experimental Intermedia (New York 2009), Seattle Improvised Music Festival (2009), Maerzmusik (Berlin 2009), Expozice Nové Hudby (Brno 2009), Serralves em Festa (Porto 2010), and Musiques Innovatrices (St. Etienne 2010).


Olivia Block (Chicago)

Olivia Block is a contemporary composer and sound artist who combines field recordings, scored segments for acoustic instruments, and electronically generated sound. Block works with recorded media, chamber ensembles, video, and site-specific sound installations. She has performed throughout Europe, America, and Japan in tours and festivals including Sonic Light, Dissonanze, Archipel, Angelica, Sunoni per il Popolo, Outer Ear, and many others. Her works have premiered at La Biennale di Venezia 52nd International Festival of Contemporary Music, and she has completed residencies and premiered works at Mills College of Music and The Berklee College of Music. She has taught master classes at several additional universities and is currently teaching in the sound department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Block has presented installations and/or films at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the library at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, the Lincoln Conservatory Fern Room in Chicago, the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and the Expanded Cinema symposium at the Tate Modern in London. She has published recordings through Sedimental, either/OAR, and Cut, among other labels.