Ulla Straus in Three Key Albums

Ulla, formerly known as Ulla Straus, is a Philadelphia-based composer of intricate, resonant ambient music. Since 2016 she has released several critically acclaimed albums. Her latest, Foam, drawn mostly from a palette of piano, guitar, and chopped vocal fragments represents a new and glitchier sound from previous records. She performs together with Rotterdam-based visual artist Nan Wang on Saturday 17 June as part of the Conflux Festival performance program at the Arminius church.

Big Room for Quiet Time Tapes, 2019 – https://quiettimetapes.bandcamp.com/album/big-room 

“Scraped sounds are offset by watery ones, thuds countered by breaths. She can do just as much with two chords as she can with an extremely intricate, arpeggiated chord progression, and does both with an awesome agility,” writes the musician Joshua Eustis from Telefon Tel Aviv, who first encountered this album in a liminal state during a 15-hour flight – and considers this “an artistic triumph both gentle as a napping rabbit and tough as nails.”

Tumbling Towards A Wall, for Experiences Ltd., 2020 – https://ullastraus.bandcamp.com/album/tumbling-towards-a-wall

“Ulla (aka Ulla Straus) likes to tread the outside edge of perception: Her music feels at once tactile, like fistfuls of earth, and immaterial, the stuff of pure shadow,” writes critic Philip Sherburne, who lists Tumbling Towards A Wall as one of his Best Ambient Albums of 2020 for Pitchfork.

Latest release, Foam, for 3XL – https://ullastraus.bandcamp.com/album/foam-2

“This is a barefoot walk over sharp rocks, an arduous journey that can feel purifying in the right mindset and unbearable in the wrong one. But after a while, it becomes easy to get lost in,” says Daniel Bromfield in his review for Resident Advisor.

Commissioned especially for Conflux Festival, Ulla performs in collaboration with Rotterdam-based visual artist Nan Wang presenting Hue Shift at the Arminius church on Saturday. Using DIY projectors and polariscopes, Hue Shift reveals the hidden beauty of refracted light from transparent materials and is a poetic interpretation of the binary system from I Ching hexagrams, perpetually shifting and entirely mesmerising.

Nan Wang is a multi-disciplinary visual artist, her practice focuses on material-based abstract works. She often finds beauty and philosophical meanings in unwanted objects or substances and creates works that revolve around the topic of identity, technology, and social interactions. She uses both digital and analog techniques and her works take the form of interactive projection installations, optical devices, live audiovisual performances, and experimental films.

Check the video of Nan Wang’s Hue Shift performance shot during International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 2023:

For more information about Nan Wang, check her website:

For more music of Ulla, check her bandcamp and soundcloud:

Program 2023

  • Conference

    Curiosity abounds when dealing with nonhuman forms of consciousness in relation to the very human forms of emotional and intellectual expression inherent to the art and music presented at Conflux Festival. Do abstraction and beauty translate? Do intention and meaning change? Can one compose for another type of consciousness? What dreams do machines and bees share?

    The one day Conflux Festival conference happening at Worm explores machine hallucinations for waking humans through talks and presentations by theorists, artists and performers from the festival program in response to the festival theme of Living Machines. With special focus on the nonhuman experience of consciousness, the conference presents alternate ways of understanding our rapidly integrated human-machine world.


    Click on names for more info

    Laura Tripaldi
    Soft Machines. Material Interfaces Between Bodies and Technologies
    Nicky Assmann
    Artist Talk
    Jorrit Paaijmans
    Artist Talk
    Joost Rekveld
    Analog Dreams of Nature
    Dave Murray-Rust
    Claire Williams
    Artist Talk
  • Club Nights

    After the neurological demands and multisensory stimulation of the Conflux's Festival day program, by night you're invited to viscerally engage in the techno-driven sounds of the club nights happening at POING and WORM across two dancefloors. Plunged into darkness and sensorially deprived by strobe and smoke, surrounded by other bodies ensnared in the ritualistic human-machine interactions of the dancefloor, here the unconscious processing can begin.

    At POING on Friday experience an afterhours program of bass-driven techno with daring producer and Fever AM label co-founder Rhyw playing with Amsterdam experimental bass artist Zohar and rising Rotterdam dubstep DJ Nala Brown from the female-focused AMPFEMININE collective. Plus local support from Ruwedata, Nikos and Mark Rutta (AKA Mark & Ruta Genyten).

    At WORM on Saturday, the playful leftfield house sounds of rRoxymore meets electro, industrial and seering "Mensch-Maschine" techno with Oliver Ho DJing as Broken English Club alongside Rotterdam techno veteran and Mord Records chief Bas Mooy, with a special collaboration from Perron resident Rita Maomenos and visual artist Cem Altınöz. Plus local support from Afra, dirtydms and Vox supreme.


    Click on names for more info

    Broken English Club
    Bas Mooy
    Nala Brown
    Rita Maomenos & Cem Altınöz
    Vox supreme
    Noach & Tyn
    Mark Rutta
  • Exhibitions

    Are machines living among us or are we living among machines? And how can we learn from each other's experiences? This year’s Conflux Festival dives deep into the human-machine dichotomy and raises questions about our relationship with artificial systems through two exhibitions exploring the festival theme of Living Machines.

    At V2_ artists Claire Williams, Evelina Domnitch & Dmitry Gelfand, Jorrit Paaijmans, Louis-Philippe Demers and Entangled Others Studio present multidisciplinary works at the intersection of science, art and technology. Under the title ‘Living Machines’ the selection of artworks show alternative views on how technology influences human perception. The second exhibition at Roodkapje presents kinetic light installations and screen based experiments by artistic researchers from the Macular collective, who celebrate 15 years of their nomadic lab practice.

    The exhibitions are free of charge. Opening times:

    Thursday 15 June: 18:00 - 21:00
    Friday 16 June: 14:00 - 20:30
    Saturday 17 June: 14:00 - 20:30
    Sunday 18 June: 14:00 - 20:30


    Click on names for more info

    Entangled Others Studio
    Macular: Nicky Assmann
    The Abysses of the Scorching Sun
    Macular: Daan Johan & Joris Strijbos
    Macular: Daan Johan & Joris Strijbos
    Macular: Eric Parren
    Macular: Nicky Assmann & Joris Strijbos
    Liquid Solid
    Jorrit Paaijmans
    Automatic Signum Series
    Jorrit Paaijmans
    Linearis Objectum No.3
    Louis-Philippe Demers
    A Monocular Dialogue
    Evelina Domnitch & Dmitry Gelfand
    Hilbert Hotel
    Claire Williams
    Macular: Matthijs Munnik
    Macular: Matthijs Munnik
  • Performances

    Conflux Festival explores the broad and murky boundaries between humans and their machines over a four day program of innovative sound performances, live audiovisual presentations and experimental cinema showcases by a cross-section of internationally renowned artists, happening across a diverse range of environments throughout the city of Rotterdam.

    For the free opening concert on Thursday, Conflux Festival presents a public sound art intervention at Plein 1940 featuring elements of the Kinetic Sounds multichannel sound installation. On Friday, the concrete cathedral Brutus will host an expanded cinema showcase of audiovisual works going beyond the traditional frame of a screen. On Saturday, visual artists and musicians will present a series of immersive screen-based performances at the Arminius Kerk, and on Sunday experience experimental theater and sound performances at Worm.


    Click on names for more info

    Drew McDowall
    Leila Bordreuil
    Ulla & Nan Wang
    AV live collaboration
    Joost Rekveld, Fani Konstantinidou & Anne La Berge
    Acidic Male & Jelmer Noordeman
    AV live collaboration
    Michela Pelusio
    SpaceTime Helix
    Olivier de Sagazan
    Encor Studio
    Mint Park
    Macular: Daan Johan
    Joost Rekveld
    Film Screening: Mechanisms Common to Disparate Phenomena; #59
    Pandelis Diamantides
    Paul Devens
    Pulses, Pops and Kaboom
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