Vanessa Rossetto has been composing strange, intricate sound worlds for 15 years, and her work only gets more immersive and textural. Before she started making sounds, Rossetto was a painter, and that practice translates into a unique, tactile construct that exists in her music. Visual art can be just as transportive, but sound art has the added benefit of time. Rossetto’s pieces are like moving aural paintings that put listeners somewhere else for a while, and on The Actress, her approach is at its most fully-realized peak.
Lifetimes begin and end in Rossetto’s work, her selection of field recordings, and, most importantly, how she assembles these intricate, winding narratives playing out like serialized novellas. Each piece on The Actress is interconnected but also stands on its own. Melodic harp motifs on “Katie Cruel” bleed into stray birdsong and an underlying hum. Later, banal everyday movements are heightened with pensive violin arrangements, building slowly into an effusive drone. Harshness and beauty move in conjunction to accentuate the creeping force of the inevitable.
Details carry weight in Rossetto’s work. Clicking and cracking sounds obscure the focus on distant voices. Electronic feedback adds spectral gloss as it becomes a sonic menagerie where the innate experience is carried forward on those elements. Then, when an out-of-breath voice and loud clatter hit at the end of “Early Girl,” the potency is boosted. These moments are countless throughout The Actress. Each repetitive texture becomes the shadows where cat purrs are currency, and blurred voices speak secret languages.
Sound collage is a medium I’m so often intrigued with yet ultimately underwhelmed. Rossetto’s approach and style, though, are the format at its best. Her work is imbued with a range of emotional undercurrents, spliced together in bizarre, engaging methods. At times, it’s a horrorshow; in others, the dynamism and melodicism simmer with surprising humor. The Actress is a massive undertaking, but it never drags or lingers on a specific silhouette for too long.