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untitled #10418. untitled #104 [ rec. 2000 ]

> rel. 2000 - CD Alien8recordings, Canada ()
>> res. 2001 - CD Alien8recordings, Canada ()
Francisco López "untitled #104" (CD, Alien8Recordings - Canada)
I kid you not. This is the album where López goes metal. Not the recording of sheet metal resonance, not the amplified vibrations of metal molecules, not even the inactivity of two pieces of sheet metal thoughtfully sitting alone in a room with nothing to ponder but their own existential (in)audibility. The normally sedate López goes metal like Emperor, Slayer, or Cradle of Filth. If anybody has recently witnessed the cascading power of López's recent live shows, then "Untitled 104" is certainly not a surprise. Of course, López sets everything up with 4 minutes of his usual silence, before a tumultuous assault of sampled metal blast beats destroys any semblence of serenity. López layers wave after wave of rhythmic clatter that reveals an incredible amount of textural noise. One blast beat takes the aural center stage, and you find yourself asking "Huh? Is this Cannibal Corpse? Or was that last one from Morbid Angel? I don't know." (Actually, we suspect that all the samples are from one band, but even the metal minds here at AQ haven't confidently guessed which one.) López could have unwittingly devised the ultimate trivia contest for metalheads to name the sample. 35 minutes pass (35 head spinning, if not head banging minutes) and then the metal rhythms stop. Ten more minutes of silence provide the coda. While this record is really fucking good (indeed, it's one of Jim's favorites of the year along with Reynols' "Blank Tapes"), it is also another example of the academic / art world colonization of metal. Like Matthew Barney's awe-inspiring image in "Cremaster 2" of Dave Lombardo hammering at his drum kit behind the sound of swarming bees, López's "Untitled 104" effectively translates the pure masculine power of metal to an audience who may not care for the, uh, aesthetics of metal. Fortunately, it appears that López and Barney do not approach metal with a snobbish irony (like Harmony Korine's reprehensible photo-enlargements of black metal album covers that sold for tens of thousands of dollars), but such appropriation nevertheless marginalizes metal as nothing more than a texture or an attitude, far from the vibrant and deviant culture that it is. Rant aside, if this record causes one fan of Bernhard Günter to get into Burzum, then, as far as Aquarius Records is concerned, López has succeeded. Recommended. (Aquarius Records, San Francisco).

Francisco López "untitled #104" (CD, Alien8Recordings - Canada)
With last BOHA's review of Jim O'Rourke dressed as black metal guitarist on the Takayanagi Tribute disc, it seems as if the dam is about to burst on introspective experimental music icons embracing the Dark One and his musical capabilities. Yes, its certainly about damn time the world of WIRE magazine readers figured out that metal has as many avant-garde properties as some Pita record; I point you all to Tumult Records' Andee Connors' brilliant contribution to the last WFMU Program Guide LCD, pointing out how Burzum is on par with Aphex Twin. Here, the normally sedate Francisco López glitches amidst four minutes of tense silence before opening the faucet on a nonstop barrage of piledriver metal samples, whacking you on the head for an extended period with such ferociousness not heard since that 40 minute maniacal chord the Boredoms held on their Super Roots #5 (WFMU, New York).

Francisco López "untitled #104" (CD - Alien8Recordings, Canada)
As a teenager in love with Metal and hardcore punk, I thrilled to the 'harder/faster/louder' maxim; for a few years, every new release seemed to open onto a world more wondrously brutal than before. At the same time, something in the implicit teleology nagged at me: wasn't there a point where the music could be pushed no further, a physiological limit to velocity and volume?
You may be surprised to learn that Francisco López, known alternatively for his barely audible soundworks and his anti-representational field recordings, is first to the finish line."Untitled #104", in stark contrast to his microscopic recordings, is composed entirely of Metal samples - blast beats, to be precise, those plummelling, double kickdrum driven sequences that give Metal its hurtling drive. And there's no doubting that this is Metal. The disc opens with five minutes of silence, punctuated intermittently by a clipped power chord, until the silence cracks open and the piece drops with all its weight: juggernaut rhythms and riffs tumbling over each other, violently out of synch but still identifiable. It sounds as if 20 or 30 copies of the same record might be playing at once, occasionally falling into phase before slipping back into chaos. López fascinates in part because, despite his well-documented musical 'purism', he often turns to heavily overdetermined sources for his sound art - rainforest field recordings, samples of Metal. His is a radical decontextualisation, stripping the sound of any association with its original production, and resituating in a field of pure sonic material. For 30 minutes, the world is noise. A variation of a composition López played across Europe and the US last summer, this recording is less subtle than that live piece - instead of growing out of silence, it explodes into the sound field - but it maintains the density of those performances. Indeed, like "La selva", one of López's jungle recordings, the disc's defining characteristic is its density. Rather than growing louder, or faster, or harder, it expands within, like a sponge, absorbing every sound it touches, turning space into a solid.
And then the piece ends abruptly. But not the CD - there are a good ten minutes of silence, total silence, afterwards. Normally this might be considered a pressing error, or perhaps the secret passage to the hidden track, but not here. Absent of any such 'reward', what are we to make of this unusual home stretch? The nearly inaudible works of López, Bernhard Günter and others approach sound's glide into silence, and this is where they are so powerful, in harnessing that subtle tension. But empty of any sound, save the hum of the speakers, it begs the question of what to focus on, since said silence is obliterated by all the listener's attendant distractions. All I can say with certainty is that the absence makes you ache for the noise it displaces. (The Wire, UK, 2000).