Laura Cocks “field anatomies”

The shapes Laura Cocks breathes into life with her various flutes is a bit of aural magic. On their debut full-length, five pieces from five different composers become tactile arrangements that never buckle under considerable physicality. Experimentation is as much a tool as it is a methodology and hearing Cocks’ use of it to get at the core of the real thesis here – the physical relationship of our bodies with playing an instrument – or a creative practice more generally – is something incredible and inspiring that should be considered more. 

field anatomies presents this corporeal idea through ferocious blasts and shrieks played at lightspeed. Imagining how Cocks is physically able to play some of these blitzes on “Atoll” or “Oxygen and Reality” blows my mind. There are moments on field anatomies – I’m thinking about sections of “You’ll see me return to the city of fury” and “Produktionsmittel I” especially – where the visceral textures of Cocks’s performance hurt. They are using so much air, pulling breath from the deepest reaches of her lungs, moving it in ways that push beyond the imagined limits of our bodies. It’s awe-inspiring, truly.

The musicality and compositional trajectories of field anatomies is also special. It’s an album that grows with each listen; new details and directions reveal themselves like secret worlds hidden in plain sight. Quick patterns tickled out on flute keys are a tiny, crystal clear waterfall on “Atoll” leading to hidden caverns where the flow builds and rushes downward in whimsical arpeggios and discordant glee. “Spiritus” connects Cocks’s voice to the resonant glow of the flute’s timbre in an ascending voyage into the celestial night. Sonorous, flowing drones rise from an invisible ether on “You’ll see me return to the city of fury” and disappear in an instant back where they were hiding. Each movement and each note has a purpose.

Cocks’s performance here is revelatory. I’ve mentioned many times in the past year how flute has become a favorite instrument of mine and how the sonic possibilities it’s capable of are endless. field anatomies is living proof. This is such a personal exposition that never turns away from the difficult passages and in the heaviest, rawest moments the connection between physical body and instrument becomes blurred as the two become a singular force of nature. field anatomies unlocks something special and new in this aural realm, and Laura Cocks will only continue to rise higher. What an important and incredible album.


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