Claire Rousay's 'Tuufuhhoowaah / Bday Shots' Shows the Artistic Potential of a Smartphone
Published Aug 17, 2020Claire Rousay has been incorporating daily life into her music more and more with every release. The two-track Tuufuhhoowaah / Bday Shots EP continues this trajectory with an increased reliance on found sounds, voice notes recitations of text messages and MIDI organ and piano. Earlier performances and recordings focused almost exclusively on the ability of percussive instruments to sound rhythmic without the usual slavish obsession with meter. The idea of being tied to instruments proper was subsequently discarded by Rousay, owing as much to her experimental tendencies as to an almost beginner-like realization that a school desk, for example, is as good an object to create with as any. Almost anything, after all, can be made to sound like a drum.
Both of the EP's songs make the argument that Rousay's phone has become the most important musical tool at her disposal. The voice notes in "Tuufuhhoowaah," like the "I missed you" around the one-minute mark of the track, act as disembodied signals full of emotional weight. Even the more overtly percussive tendencies of Rousay's music find expression in the clickety-clack of the iPhone's keyboard.
On "Bday Shots," Rousay's dramatic tonal shifts within a piece are executed through her sequencing of conversations (with others, with herself, and with no one). The shifts — in subject matter, in perspective, in amount of voices, in background noise — all give the song a sense of temporal fluidity, as though we are traversing a day, week or month in Rousay's life.
What makes Rousay's recent output distinct from others working in a broadly experimental and percussive manner, however, is her exceptional ability to make the sonic characteristics of any object sound like an invitation to intimacy. (Whited Sepulchre)