Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Review of Francisco Lopez Untitled #308 from Vital Weekly


FRANCISCO LOPEZ - UNTITLED #308 (CDR by Very Quiet Records)
It's perhaps nothing strange to see a release by Francisco Lopez on a label called Very Quiet Records. After all his main claim to fame came in the mid 90s with a release like 'Warzawa Restaurant', which was surely one of the quietest releases ever. The whole idea was, if I remember Lopez' reasoning well, that the listener had more freedom to fiddle around with the stereo, adding mid/high/low frequencies and more options with the volume control to set the music at such a level that he would seem best. Lopez' concerts where quite loud affairs, but saw him fiddle around with all of the notions himself. Stuff you wouldn't do easily at home I would think. It brought on a vast amount of releases, which explored this territory quite in depth. Many of these releases were called 'untitled' - as to give no indication what it was about, the difference between absolute and programmatic music - and had one piece. Here we have an 'Untitled' disc with two pieces, part one and part two, with an explanation what we hear: "unprocessed unedited piezo-disk pieces", one recorded in Calakmul rainforest, Yucatan, Mexico and one in Hverfjall crater, Island. As usual with Lopez releases I open these in an audio editor on my computer, because it allows me to do all that fiddling with his music. One noteworthy thing straight away: there is actually something to see in these sound waves, but that not necessarily means there is much to hear. But once you normalized it, put up the volume a bit more, these pieces of raw material turn out to be very nice. We peak into the Lopez kitchen, and see what kind of sounds he finds fascinating. In the Mexico piece this is something very dark, wind on a metal roof perhaps, picked up with a piezo microphone? Or maybe just the wind and a microphone like that? Hard to say, but it sounds intriguing for the entire length of this piece. Nothing static about it, as it moves back and forth. This piece would have been enough, in its forty-two minutes of length. The Iceland piece lasts thirty three minutes and picks up a likewise far away hum; events happening outside the field of microphone. A piezo ceramic microphone has only a limited range when attached to a surface. But if nothing happens on the surface directly, it can also pick sounds from somewhere else. Maybe that's the whole thing that happens here? The Iceland piece is equally fascinating, once you adjust the parameters to your own liking. Very nice indeed. Both of these raw building blocks. (FdW)