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Francisco López – Untitled [2009]


Snoring into view, Francisco López‘ umpteen-hundredth record (many of them untitled, and here each track is unnamed and numbered instead) crepitates and crunches, rustles, whistles and sussurates with the close-mic’d presence of musique concrète, up close and present in the ears. López’ attention to detail is almost disturbingly intimate, sound sidling, shuffling and creeping around the stereo image. Across two discs of supremely directed environmental manipulations and software arrangements, the overall effect is one which is replete with moments of intensity, a full-fat repast of sonic flavours which tickle the palette and satisfy cravings for the sort of sounds found lurking at the back of the fridge (in the machinery, crackling, and in the ice box, squeezing) before hissing flatulently into overloaded, satiated oblivion.

There are tones and drones, self-transforming shimmers and the rising, falling rhythm of the electronic body (in decay or rude health) serving as a metaphor for interior human sound, the rush of blood through the ears stimulated and simulated as bright vistas of abstractions evolve around the tinkerings and and re-imagined real world noises made strange through the liquid transformations of greater or lesser degrees of abrasive digital processing.

To listen to this on headphones in an otherwise silent environment is the pure form of its assimilation, doubtlessly; to have it on a personal stereo in a public place is an altogether more random experience. Blending spluttering granular synthesis with the dynamic onbound rush and curving rumble of an intercity train, where the exterior thrum of the engine and the quotidian chatter of the passengers rubs up against the sound of what could be a box of nuts and bolts being shaken, then stirred, is a particularly apposite combination; to bring in the hurly-burly vigour of more public transport is more often a losing battle for López, though one not without its synchronic moments of incongruous enjoyment. In both circumstances, the blurring of the lines between interior and exterior soundscapes is one to pique and stimulate the listener (and it had better be, otherwise the choice of listening is probably be left to more dominant forms of music where the outside can be overridden more easily; though admittedly some of the latter sections of disc two do a very good job of blotting out – or perhaps absorbing and assimilating – competing sound sources through the sheer force of their spectrum-covering sonic accretions) – and where the leakage of sound from less contained earpieces might impinge in their own recursive fashion upon the wider world.

The stochastic happenstance which López adumbrates here is to be revelled in, to grasp the compositional elements and place them in conjunction with the joyful process of discovery and selection. It all comes out in the edit, the reverberating continuing flicker of a subtly-overdriven glitch or hissing pulsation as beauteous in their refractions as the purity of the often blindingly sublime software-sourced electronic tones as they overwhelm the audio spectrum.

-Linus Tossio-

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