Premiere: Laura Cocks “Oxygen and Reality”

Photo by Julia Den Boer

I am always so taken with the ferocity and agility with which Laura Cocks plays the flute. Their new album, field anatomies, explores the degree to which a body can be pushed and what exists in the space beyond our limitations. Cocks’ music exists in simultaneous spheres of deep, investigative realities and an effervescent glow of pure, joyous expression. It is work that is heady, but also a lot of fun. 

With “Oxygen and Reality,” written by composer Bethany Younge, limits transform into potential. This piece uses piccolo, balloons, electronics, hardware, and voice to magnify the physicality of our lung capacity how the air itself is a tangible force. In this video, the starkness of the performance is elevated into a visceral plane, most notably as Cocks squeezes the air from a balloon, letting the rush of sound echo and permeate every inch of space. Intense passages of flute screams crash into cacophonous whirrs while electronics grate our nerves into oblivion. It’s like being sucked up in a tornadic vortex while Cocks’ disembodied voice whispers cryptic missives from the writhing crevices.

“Oxygen and Reality” is incredible. When Cocks plays the flute, it becomes an extension of herself and the inquisitive nature of the piece, and her playing, is infectious as Younge’s composition becomes a detailed sonic bodyscan, showing every stratification and passageway that keeps us alive and connected to the outer realms. Cocks performance is otherwordly, turning this intricate, difficult dance into an awe-inspiring aural spectacle. Each time I listen to this track or watch this video, I’m further entranced and amazed at their focused approach. Laura Cocks’ work is an invitation to think about our physical interactions with not just music and sound, but especially the world around us. 

field anatomies is an absolute wonder and will be released on February 22 via Carrier Records. Hear another piece from the album – Cocks’ stellar performance of David Bird’s “Atolls” – pre-order it below.


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