[ reviews ]

whint21. whint [ rec. 2000 ]

> rel. 2001 - double CD .absolute.[london], UK ()
Francisco López / Zbigniew Karkowski "Whint" (double CD -.absolute.[london], 2001)
It comes to you in a plain plastic jewel case. Then again maybe it doesn't, as there are only 954 of these double CD's from López' floating label, Absolute. This release, facilitated by London based label Touch, brings together one long piece from each composer, constructed with only white noise as a source material. Karkowski's massive rumbling slow motion hurricane force white disc is the more immediately impressive of the two. With only white noise to manipulate, the soundfield is perhaps rather monochramatic, but there is no lack of action and the brightness and contrast controls are spun to their extremes. It starts out deceptively quietly and rises to a floor shaking crescendo before abruptly cutting off. Slowly high sonic swooshes pan from speaker to speaker. It continues with variations on these effects, and the dominant elements are a fairly constant deep bass drone and ever shifting mid to high end controlled bursts of noise. About halfway through it rises to obliterating whiteout, before the hurricane shifts to the calm eye for a while, with just a low pulse shadow left. Then slowly the whirlwind picks up again. Experience all the fun of an avalanche from the comfort of your armchair! On the black disc, Francisco López latterly takes things to minimal extremes with such low level white noise splinters and burnt out cold silhouette drones they're almost beyond perception. It starts out with a low level rumble like a busy motorway polluting the air in the distance. Suddenly the cars are driving right under the floorboards and smoke comes rising through the cracks! Soon the room is choking. López seems more content to let the same pitches drone away for much longer than on the comparatively teeming Karkowski piece, minutely dabbing more and more black into the sound picture. Your mum's vacuum cleaner never sounded so good! Around twelve minutes in there's an abrupt cut off and the listener is dropped into López' realm of microscopic sound shadows that redefine the word 'ambient' (could it be 'nonbient'?) and have the ears straining as babies howl, birds twitter and motors rumble outside. Six minutes later, gas leak hisses begin and careless matches are struck and blowtorches scorch the walls, then march rhythmically out the door and into the city, razing everything in their path. They fiddled with computers whilst the world burnt. www.turbid.com (USA, 8/01)

Francisco López / Zbigniew Karkowski "Whint" (double CD - .absolute.[london], 2001)
López is the sick puppy who lasy year came up with the CD of an hour of a piledriving blackmetal loop that punched you in the face, and now he and fellow sound constructor Zbigniew Karkowski come up with new material that blows. Literally. THIS CD BLOWS AIR ON YOU. SERIOUSLY, A CONSTANT STREAM OF AIR, AS IF YOU WERE SITTING IN FRONT OF A FAN. How this is done is as mysterious yet quite explainable: you know how certain low-end bass frequencies can pummel you from speakers with their beats, well, here is a case of a continual rush of compounded, low end frequencies (that WHOOSH, not rumble) and the result is a slow hour-build of subsonic tones to a full on, hair-blowing maelstrom of sound. I called up whoever was in the building, and sure enough, Volunteer Director Scott, and two guys from a live band Diane was taping sat between the speakers and had a nice breeze for a while. As of now, I do not have the report on whether this works over the radio, or whether all the various broadcast limiters and such will eradicate the tones. Would be great if it worked over the internet stream, eh? (WFMU, New York, 9/01)

Francisco López / Zbigniew Karkowski "Whint" (double CD - .absolute.[london], 2001)
With his Absolute record label and near-mammoth discography, Spanish composer Francisco López stands at the forefront of a newer sort of musical minimalism --- the "absolute music" scene. As López defines it, absolute music is set free from extra-musical signifiers. It stands on its own. It is as it is. And when you handle sound this way, as with the best musical minimalism, you're bound to deliver a transcendental experience.
Lately, López has focused almost exclusively on recording long pieces and releasing them untitled and without packaging art. And whether his source sounds are pure static, sampled death-metal riffs, or rainforest recordings (López is an ex-biologist), López unfurls his compositions cinematically, over long durations, wavering between solid mass and near to complete inaudibility.
If experienced in a suitable listening environment, with good speakers and away from distraction, the near-silent passages of a López piece will meld with the sounds of birds chirping near your window, or cars passing by. The louder passages, and there are plenty, will reveal themselves to be made up of millions of tiny sonic particles, not just huge slabs of sonic mass.
Believe it or not, López is not alone in this genre. Germany's Bernhard Günter has been plying his own unique take on absolute music for several years now, even if his work has taken some surprising turns recently. And then there is Tokyo-based Zbigniew Karkowski, another pure-sound absolutist whose "extreme" work managed to clear an entire room of what we assumed to be sympathetic listeners at Berlin's Podewil last summer.
So it's perfectly fitting, and totally exciting, that these two have joined to issue a double CD set of remixed white noise for Absolute. Recorded by commission of The Compound in San Francisco, Whint finds Karkowski and López generating and transforming a common pool of sounds together, and then creating two independent pieces, one CD each, in separate studio rooms.
True to form, both composers abstain from treating their source sounds. So both pieces sound very similar. Differences can be discerned in the works' architecture. Karkowski's piece is immediately impressive, building on a deep rumble with wisps of high-end sound that flutter across the stereo spectrum. Intimidating shards of white noise lash out angrily from the stasis, beating a mechanical rhythm.
López takes a much less pointed approach, with similar sounds evolving slowly, and darkly. His textures are less defined, not quite as purely physical as Karkowski's. They're no less fascinating though, staying restless even when barely audible. Rochester City News (New York, 10/01)