[ reviews ]

untitled (2004)40. untitled (2004) [ rec. 2004 ]

> rel. 2006 - CD MoSo, USA (website)
Francisco López - "untitled (2004)" (CD MoSo, USA 2006)
While many composers struggle to find new ways and materials to aliment the flickering flame of their artistic void, López keeps releasing fascinating music without the need of deviating from his main path, which remains perfectly delineated by his creations, always full of unusual acoustic phenomena and distinctive soundscapes born from a series of raw sources recorded by himself or given to him by fellow sound artists. "Untitled (2004)" contains nine rousing examples of Francisco's aesthetical point of view, including a fabulous hommage to Pierre Schaeffer - "Untitled #163" - which in less than 20 minutes juxtaposes finely detailed field recordings, silent reflections and subsonic movements establishing a direct connection with the core essentials of our biological entity. Several shorter tracks manage to keep us constantly receptive, the most emotional being "Untitled #161", based on the pulse of human breath (by Cecile Martin); this piece seems to represent the perfect balance between man's need of survival and the artist's urgency to exorcise the unnecessary complexities of inner research; it's just another enthralling chapter in one of the best recent works by López. Touching Extremes (Italy), May 2006.

Francisco López - "untitled (2004)" (CD MoSo, USA 2006)
What kind of sound do colliding molecules make? Who knows if they even would - but if that could, someday, be amplified to perceptible levels, it's a safe bet that composer/sound artist Franscisco López will add it to his lexicon. It would be a logical progression from his latest release, which thrusts the listener in media res, at the center of a high-powered parabolic microphone trained on the sounds within any given landscape. Using source material attributed to a variety of collaborators as well as original environmental recordings from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Singapore airport, López crafts a series of compositions that are far from relaxing, "ambient soundscape"-type listening. Noises are largely unidentifiable, and most tracks end abruptly and unsettlingly, as if a broadcast feed were suddenly lost. Slip this stuff into "Echoes" host John DiLiberto's weekly radio playlist and mellows shall be harshed, permanently.

"Untitled #168" might register on a seismograph. Plumbing frequencies that are more felt than heard, it sets the tone for a challenging listen. "Untitled #166" is no more hospitable. It's a cold and damp and horrible southwestern Pennsylvanian fall. You're mere centimeters from stormwater rushing through a crumbling cistern. Listeners prone to panic may want to skip to the next track. "Untitled #163," the most "industrial" sounding of the lot, hints at a long night locked in a boiler room with Archon Satani to keep you company. Oh, and that boiler room is in hell. A chorus of hissing gases discharge sporadically to the ratcheting of an iron lung and an onslaught of jarring, arrhythmic crashes. "Untitled #171" features raw sound materials from Z'ev, a percussionist long known for his proclivities toward earthshaking percussion. López admirably sidesteps the easy way out of blasting the listener into submission, instead shaving the source material (whatever it might have been) down to an attack-less murmur, a disembodied remnant of a vibrating skin.

Unfortunately, the album's weakest link is "Untitled #154," a comparatively uninspired-sounding treatment of source material from Swiss metal band Knut. López sets the bar so high with the preceding tracks that the edited-together mishmash of the band's trademark angular rhythms and chugging, dissonant guitar riffs falls far short of anything more than a remix. However, avant-garde sound exploration being a largely inexact science, eight out of nine ain't bad. Dusted Magazine (USA), April 2006.

Francisco López - "untitled (2004)" (CD MoSo, USA 2006)
Blindfolds at the ready, thrillseekers: the 'absolute concrete' maestro is back in town. This latest collection, while not offering anything resembling a new departure for López, is simply superb. By doing exactly the opposite of what his source material would seem to demand -reducing and compressing the panoramic to the miniature, or heightening and expanding the delicate to the point where it screams and rages - he manages to reveal to us something about the physicality of sound that no amount of fiddly technological invention of high-blown theory ever could. The recordings that he uses here range from airport atmospheres to samples of Metal group Knut, the latter deployed in an entertaining but somewhat incongruously staright mash-up that is more like a remix than a López original. As usual, each track ends with an abrupt cut to silence, as if the composer expects the alteration in perception caused by the piece to allow the subsequence silence to be similarly reconfigured in the ear of the listener. This is the most utterly immersive of sonic experiences. But remember -no peeking. The Wire (UK), May 2006.