[ reviews ]

hysechasterion48. lópez Island [ rec. 2006 ]

> rel. 2007 - CD Elevator Bath, USA (website)
Francisco López - " lópez island" (CD Elevator Bath, USA 2007)
There is no Meelkop Island or Chartier Island, but there is a López Island - and to send Francisco López there, armed with his microphone and recording device is a stroke of genius. López Island lies in the state of Washington and is an island. López is a composer of natural phenomena, which he transforms in ways we don't know (computer? analogue? filtering?), and the outcome is always something one needs to hear. The start is very López like: silent. One of those, one might all to easily think. But it's not one of those. Five or so minutes into the piece (now that is the same as 95% of his releases: they have single track), it's audible and remains so until five or so minutes before it ends. In the remaining forty or so minutes we hear the falling of rain in the first part and electrical sounds (engines? ventilators? boats?) in the second part. At one point there are even audible loops used, which is rarity (but not an unknown) feature in the music of López. As said everything is derived from the environment, but it's put together as a piece of music, not a documentary of the island. You don't have to be there or know the place, to enjoy this piece of music. It fits the more recent works by López, which are more audible than his works of say a decade ago, and is another strong work from this undisputed master. Vital Weekly (The Netherlands), 2007

Francisco López - "lópez island" (CD Elevator Bath, USA 2007)
Elevator Bath is immensely proud to present this exquisite new work from one of the major figures of contemporary experimental music. López Island was crafted from original environmental sound matter recorded in López Island during the winter of 1999-2000. The resulting composition is 51 minutes of both delicate minutiae as well as startling power - crackling, howling, and haunting. The small island in Washington state provided the beautiful, isolated terrain for López' gathering of raw sounds and, as a personal audio document (though clearly beyond mere documentary), the landscape has been expertly translated. A quintessentially chilling interpretation of the winter beach, López Island is a worthy addition to López' exemplary body of absolute concrète music and, indeed, one of his finest works to date. Elevator Bath press release (USA), February 2007

Francisco López - "López island" (CD Elevator Bath, USA 2007)
López Island is one of the many islands that dapple the Puget Sound of Washington state, located about 150 miles NW of Seattle. It seems an isolated environment that probably attracts a good deal of outdoorsy types in the summertime; yet for the field recordist / composer Francisco López, he explored the island's soundscape during the winter of 1999-2000 when sleet, snow, wind, and rain perpetually fell upon the island. López has always been a consumate phonographer, with his typical strategies being acousmatic in nature, whereby he would extract and filter particular sounds from his recordings and build monolithic slabs of grey sounds elegantly shifting from near silences to tumultous crescendos. La Selva (and to a lesser extent Addy En Elpais De Las Frutas Y Los Chunches) remain the most highly regarded compositions through this strategy, with sounds becoming blurred into a miasma of turbulance, confusion, and intrigue. Here on López Island, our man López begins his composition with an extended passage of raw recordings, in particular there's the damp tactility of sleet sploshing amidst wet leaves and twigs. If anything, López has set the stage for a very cold environment, followed by a brisk whistling of wind that López slowly transforms into a thoroughly synthetic climax of sparkling drones and haunted siren songs that resemble the isolationism of BJ Nilsen, Stilluppsteypa, and the Hafler Trio much more than before. Since the release of his Live In San Francisco recording, we haven't been too keen on Francisco's output; but López Island marks the inevitable return to excellence for Mr. López. www.aquariusrecords.org (USA), February 2007

Francisco López - "López island" (CD Elevator Bath, USA 2007)
Francisco López's aptly titled release was originally recorded during 1999-2000, from a sequestered island in northwest Washington. López Island is a staggeringly dynamic piece that introduces itself rather quietly, with what may seem typical at first, but soon proves to be a sonic exploration full of surprises. Delicate silences trickle, organic crackles build into rich layers, sounds shift from foreground to background - the piece continues with a lush balance of hovering pulses, stuttering mechanical rhythms, turbulent howls, and an unexpected musicality that seems to ascend and descend to a perfect closure. Yet, the actual conclusion of this piece I will leave alone, as it is a surprise in itself that should be saved for the experience. Here, López manages an unquestionably beautiful interchange between nature and artifice, skillfully allowing diverse and concrète elements a musicality of their own. This is easily one of the most remarkable releases I have heard by this esteemed composer. A limited run of 500 copies with thoughtfully handcrafted minimal packaging. Highly recommended. www.chaindlk.com, March 2007

Francisco López - "López island" (CD Elevator Bath, USA 2007)
The title does not refer to a personal possession of the composer, it's just an American island in the Pacific Ocean; the namesake album deals with piecing together sources recorded in that remote area during the winters of 1999 and 2000 and subsequently subjected to some degree of studio treatment. After a silent portion, we're welcomed by sounds of raindrops, some of them heavier than others, thus causing sharp ticks and snaps that, in their pure nudity, surpass all the digital micromolecules heard in most laptop releases nowadays, all of this surrounded by perennial winds and distant washing. About 17 minutes into the piece, a short nocturnal segment introduces a series of unhappy sounding moans by some unidentified inhabitant of the forest. A typical segment of "López silence" divides this part from the next and longest one, which begins with something like looped and processed thunderstorm somehow dampened by the very same wind that rips through the majority of these recordings; it gradually rises both in volume and extraneous noisy appearances until it becomes a menacing - make that evil - presence whose voice is coloured with a metallic/shortwave-like gradation, accompanied by an ever-present rumbling foundation. Although recorded in an island, all of the above recalls urban desperation, as elliptical murmurs and flanged spirals of lamentations wrap us with an uncomfortable tissue. It finally cuts to silence again until the very last minute, in which a final helping of deeply affecting howls in a marine climate kisses us goodbye. www.touchingextremes.org, (Italy) April 2007

Francisco López - "López island" (CD Elevator Bath, USA 2007)
Another schizophonic musician. Few realize that López goes way way back not only does he have something like 140 works spread out over a growing pile of cassettes and CDs (and over an equal number of labels as well), he's personally responsible for one of the most unsung masterpieces of ambient concréte set to plastic, 1993's Azoic Zone (on Spain's just as unjustly neglected Geometrik imprint), the sounds of which are culled from the créme de la créme of the worldwide experimental underground, eventually reconstituted into a lambent phasic under its curator's nimble tutelage. López continues to cultivate a rep as a "confounding" artist, one whose projects can either inflict blunt force trauma (courtesy of his notorious noise juggernauts) or lull you into a semi-conscious rigor via stealthy, dreadnought ambience. While by no means a summation of any sort (the man's got a long way to go yet), López Island finds the artist burning the proverbial candle from both ends, albeit with stunning results. Hell, let's go a step further: López Island is easily the most arresting sonic portrait López has committed to disc since that epochal 1993 event. Few recordings require (or even beg) repeated play this one demands it. On surface, López is working with fairly recognizable "cues" and sources-archly processed static that alternately mimics both rain and the crackling of campfires, portentous silence, orgasmic hum, draining water, spatial movements that resemble the inertia of dust motes-but his positioning of them in the stereofield belies an omniscient hand that buttresses their power, and only successive attentive listenings reveals the complex chain of sonorities devilishly apace. As the piece opens, the burgeoning pinpricks are so subtle you're inclined to reach for your amp's volume control (a move I'd advise agains "normal" output levels are recommended for maximum absorption), so let patience out. Once the symphony of pellet downpour/kettledrum sizzle/static headrush winds down at the 17-minute mark, and the pitchblack silence is left to engulf you, suddenly, at 20 minutes in, López slowly coaxes this galvanic ecosystem on towards its magnificent fulmination. Whether filed under "soundscape" or "(whatever) ambience," it's doubtful they'll be a better, if not essential, "genre" record this year. e-i magazine (USA), July 2007.

Francisco López - "López island" (CD Elevator Bath, USA 2007)
With López Island, international nomad and blindfold enthusiast Francisco López returns to the site-specific, representational sound worlds of La Selva. Well, almost. López here has at least acknowledged the source material of his work all sounds were recorded on the coincidentally named island in Washington State rather than rely on the mysterious, untitled CDs devoid of information and packaged in blank jewel cases. However, López Island remains as disciplined as any of his recordings on highly concentrated deep listening, and, despite taking the infinite breadth of "found sound" as his instrument, a number of familiar Lópezian tropes appear.
López Island consists of four phases, moving thematically from lighter, introductory passages to more dramatic, destructive sounds. Out of introductory silence emerge low-volume, close rattlings, as though small objects were being fondled next to the microphone. After some minutes the silence returns, punctuating the set before a series of indistinct bleating sounds emerge, or rather intrude, like the distant whine of strangled pigs. Another pause, and then the real meat of this recording begins, a thick slab of muffled gray hum much like the volcanic drones of Thomas Köner, only more elusive and organic and dirtier. Steady sheets of battering wind are interrupted by a distorted crackle in the left channel, growing louder and more distorted before infiltrating the whole sound spectrum. A synthesized rusted-gate squeak enters, as do richer, harsh drills and an offensive metal tapping. These, too, are soon subsumed by rich, dense overtones like the hum of distant and busy traffic and motor hiss, as a semi-rhythmic tic gets louder. Another fine recording to add to his growing body of work. Joshua Meggitt, Grooves Magazine.