[ reviews ]

amarok63. amarok [ rec. 2007-2009 ]

> rel. 2010 – CD Glacial Movements, Italy (website)
Francisco López – "amarok" (CD Glacial Movements, Italy 2010)
For those yet to discover Francisco Lopez's vast discography, Amarok represents a brilliant way in. While not necessarily any more or any less accessible than material you'll hear elsewhere in his catalogue, there are ties between this mammoth hour-long piece and the language of dark-ambient music. You'll have to crank the volume a little bit to appreciate the scale and dynamic range employed here, but once you've acclimatised the Spanish composer soon immerses you in an icy drone-grotto, booming with low end presence and ground-melting rumbles while a biting arctic wind circulates. The piece's name, Amarok, is derived from a giant wolf in Inuit mythology. Aptly, at one stage you hear a snarling, heavy breathing rise up from the backdrop, sounding like a field recording of some terrifying cave beast, which by Lopez's very studious and level-headed standards almost comes across as a bit campy, but in this context such noises fit in with the bleak polar atmospherics of the piece. In addition to Lopez regulars, fans of Thomas Koner and Deathprod would do well to ckeck this out. Highly recommended. www.boomkat.com March 2010

Francisco López – "amarok" (CD Glacial Movements, Italy 2010)
Lopez' music has a way of getting under my skin, in the same way the faint whine from fluorescent lights and computer screens in an office or the background hum of refrigerators and appliances at home do. While listening to Amarok it becomes part of the environment and the mind filters out its steady subliminal assault. At times I almost forgot I had an album playing, but then the pressure either built up with noise reasserting itself, or it halted abruptly at which times I felt an immediate sense of ease and relaxation. These moments don't last though and the underlying anxiety (both frigid and animalistic) inevitably returns.

Although one continuous work, there are clear movements or sections within Amarok. The first is like a slow wind that gradually builds up into a gale of near white noise with a driving pulse of low-end macerating beneath. The storm of sounds disperses abruptly before descending back into an icy oblivion where it meanders around for a while longer.

For me, the high point of the 64 minute soundscape comes early on, in what I hear as a second movement to the work, starting around the 16 minute mark. It also places the recording in the context of its given name: Amarok is a monstrous wolf in Inuit mythology that tracks down and devours anyone who is foolish enough to hunt alone at night. I can hear the bestial snarls of this creature—compoundeded from what manner of source material I know not—as it tramples through snowy arctic wastes. At first it sounds like chains being drug across the ice, or the heavy chug of an ocean liner. Whatever the original field recordings were of, they quickly transform into vaporous snarls. The bestial growls of terror become slightly more defined while leaving plenty of room for my imagination to fill in the gaps.

The long remainder of the album is not as blatantly horrific though it is unsettling. Recorded between 2007-2009 and evocative of desolate isolation, Lopez claims it is the "spookiest work I've ever done." It is easy to agree with him on this point, based on what else I've heard from this extremely prolific sound artist. He is clearly a master at creating soundtracks for inner cinema. Approaching the work as if I was at one of his concerts, blindfolded, I am able to pay proper attention to the minutiae of sound. As a cunning craftsman he is able to shape it to precise effect. www.brainwashed.com March 2010

Francisco López – "amarok" (CD Glacial Movements, Italy 2010)
Un fade in di un minuto e mezzo, un drone impercettibile, insinuante, che nel suo sviluppo gonfia l'ambiente di vibrazioni ultrabasse. Così inizia il nuovo lavoro per la label radicale romana Glacial Movements del compositore spagnolo Francisco López (1964), maestro dell'isolazionismo, e di una certa elettronica ai confini con le sperimentazioni sul silenzio e l'elettroacustica, uno dei principali esponenti della sound art. Richiesto di un esercizio di stile sul tema dei ghiacci - la trama di ogni disco della Glacial Movements (che dopo avere pubblicato Mick Harris e i suoi Lull si appresta a fare uscire un nuovo lavoro di Thomas Köner) - López sceglie la quiete spettrale delle profondità polari, scandagli remoti, droni fantasma, o forse il respiro cupo, minaccioso e circolare dell'Amarok, il lupo gigante della tradizione inuit. Un esempio adamantino di quella che lo stesso López ha definito "absolute concrete music", un eccezionale lavoro di manipolazione minimale e intransigente su suoni ambientali e field recordings. Per fan di: Pierre Schaefer, Lull, Aidan Baker http://andreaprevignano.blog.deejay.it March 2010

Francisco López – "amarok" (CD Glacial Movements, Italy 2010)
On Amarok sound sculptor Francisco López softens a savage terrain of whirring buzz like a brewing storm, then cuts suddenly, short and flat, to cool drone breezes. This lengthy hour plus work captures the sense of territorial distances, something akin to open torch flames and the echo of the outdoors. Like few of his recent releases López has treated his sources to a lush full course of thin layered varying depths of field. One can lavish in the work almost as if it were photographic, depicting a cryptic background of nerve-ending like fleeting activity while a curvy, hushness dances at close range. The charge of a sifting blur bleeds through a majority of the dark center here before a brisk release comes in the final dozen minutes. In its dramatic finality, Amarok poses a detached embrace of sorts, much like López's live concert work. The journey ends as the cycle began in bare, slow silence. http://toneshift.wordpress.com March 2010