by Kara-Lis Coverdale & Kara Crabb.

6 July 2017

"In “Children,” Coverdale and Crabb offer a spellbinding sonic meditation on the primacy of interpretive utterance in relationship to external stimuli. Through her vocal incantations, Crabb invites the listener to inhabit the mind and body of a child encountering the world and its objects for the first time, making sense of them through vocalization. Coverdale notes that this process of instinctual interpretation through vocalization liberates a given object of its naturalized meaning and function while conferring new meaning and possibility back onto the object. Also notable is the fact that Crabb sings from an encrypted text of sorts – what is a foreign language to her – as if to also emulate an interpretive computer program as it decodes human generated script.

Ultimately, the collaborators here imagine the voice as the original conduit of human subjectivity and agency, reflected in its narrative preeminence in the score relative to other sonic devices. A multitude of organic and synthetic sounds serve as the accompaniment and underlying structure, remaining, for a time distinct from the voice; this architectural configuration of voice and instruments thus symbolizes the distance between parent and child, form and content, a precious gem and its setting. Notable among the accompanimental forces are the flute, music fashioned from an algorhythmicaly derived melody, and the overtly synthetic strings, which enmesh contrapuntally with the voice. Indeed, as the piece seemingly builds to a climax, the sounds become indistinguishable from the voice, inspiring hope in the listener -- hope for connection, intelligibility, and meaning. Yet Coverdale, unwilling to indulge in conventional teleological structures, defies the listener’s expectations as the would-be apogee breaks apart, concluding instead as but a fleeting moment of sonic conjecture."

Jessica Holmes, 
UCLA Postdoctoral Scholar, 
PhD Musicology - McGill, 
Montreal, 2017


Kara-Lis Coverdale is a composer and artist who explores the distinction between the human and data in unique and surreal ways. Her work has often focused on various forms of disembodiment, transcendence, and fantasy, firmly rooted in a fascination with ecology. Her 2014 work A 480 (Constellation Tatsu) explored the digital voice in a series of acapella pieces accompanied with graphic .nfo scores to index, play upon, and make creative the mode of production from which the sounds were sourced. Other works are 2015’s Aftertouches (Sacred Phrases), which explores notions of a new, limitless- frontier that bridges often distinct sound worlds seamlessly and integratively and explores the digital frontier with emotive fluidity. Sirens, a collaboration with LXV, explores alternate narratives of sonic violence, re-inscribing and re-interpreting expressions of pain as they are translated from context to context, medium to medium. Grafts (2017, Boomkat), is her latest release that studies a fundamental characteristic of electronic music within the artist’s own practice: the spitting of sound. She has also written extensively on what she calls “veridicism” in music to index the myriad contexts in which understandings of realism in mediated musics are sonically and culturally terraced and always in flux, and how this affects memory and meaning perceptively.

Kara-Lis has presented work at festivals like Unsound, Atonal, RBMA, InaGRM, Mutek, and via institutions like the Barbican, Tate, AGO, and Elbphilharmonie, and has recently been artist in residence at EMS Stockholm, GRM Paris, Oboro Montreal, and IAC Malmö. She is presently working on a commission on language for music and dance for Vanemuine Theatre in Estonia, and a project called VoxU, a work that explores the first vocal synthesis instrument, Vox Humana, (c 1500) to be premiered in August via Mutek at SAT in Montreal. She is also known for her collaborations with artists like LXV, Tim Hecker, is part of the artist collective and label ACTE. She is currently based in Montreal. 


Kara Crabb’s artistic practice combines hyper-realism, metalinguistics, and animism. Drawing inspiration from reality TV, mythology, and the healthcare industry, her work bravely undermines systems embedded in the everyday, often verging on satire. In 2011 her play, The Stillbirth, premiered at the SIPA Short Works Festival at Loyola Chapel in Montreal. From 2011 to 2013 she released several experimental performance pieces through VICE, which explored fashion, bodily function, and narrative. Her work has been published by Tunica Studios, TIME Inc., and FASHION Magazine. In 2014 she collaborated with Kara-Lis Coverdale on Royal Jelly, which premiered at Arts Court Theatre in Ottawa, and explored nuances of feminism, cannibalism, and technological dependency. From 2015 to 2017 she studied linguistics and psychology and became invested in cognitive research, across species, and across perceptions of neurotypicality.


Kara-Lis and Kara have worked together since 2011 in numerous creative capacities and projects: a performance series for VICE (Coon-Suit Riot, Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’, and Pee In My Mouth), an original play and score called Royal Jelly for The Fringe Festival in Ottawa, and The Reproductive Life Cycle of a Flower for Theatre Passé Muraille, a play for one written by Kara Crabb with original score starring Norah Paton.