The “emo ambient” tag seems to have stuck for the music of emergent San Antonio artist Claire Rousay, and in all fairness, it fits pretty well. Her work, at its core, is an experiment in using commonplace environmental sounds to tug at the heartstrings directly. Across her quickly growing discography, field recordings of lighters, typewriters and other domestic paraphernalia seamlessly mingle with voice recordings, text-to-speech and the hesitant harmonics of classical instrumentation and drone. Under her direction, these components seem to coalesce into something more than a mere meeting of acoustics and textures, evoking emotion, memory and a striking sense of vulnerability in the listening experience. This is music for Oliveros-inspired deep listeners and for poets finding meaning among the mundane.
On her latest record, Everything Perfect Is Already Here, Rousay welcomes melodic elements into her compositions: on It Feels Foolish to Care, wandering harp progressions join slumbering violins, voices and laughter, and possibly paper rustles and poured liquids; a piano refrain drops in towards the end without buildup, tender yet sudden enough to hit like a stunner out of nowhere.
Rousay’s percussionist tendencies surface on the title track, though her “kit” now consists of microphone scratchings and the brief movements and exchanges of humans. Transitionary wind sounds and leaf-crunching footsteps walk the track over to its eventual harp outro, though it’s hard to be sure whether we’re coming or going. Between Rousay’s drones and disruptions, melodics and arguments, the album becomes a place for feeling in the present, untethered by time, as familiar as a memory and as placeless as a dream.