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Francisco Lopez
untitled (2005) (Anoema) CD

 Spanish sound artist Francisco Lopez is best-known for his use of extended periods of silence and near silence in his carefully crafted compositions; yet his work is anything but minimal. For while it occasionally skirts along the edge of audibility and even plunges into the abyss of sonic nothingness every so often, his pieces teem and churn with activity, often boiling over into a riotous, earsplitting din. His latest release, untitled (2005) finds Lopez creating an eminently satisfying and engrossing mix of racket and calm. Following his usual m.o., Lopez, who is a biologist by trade, uses sounds sourced from the environment (insects, birds, rain and the like) on the majority of the pieces here, creating dense ecosystems of sound that churn and buzz, reaching occasional, exhileratingly cacophonous peaks and equally breathtakingly precipitous drops. Less typical for Lopez is the third piece on the disc, “untitled #111 (for jani christou),” which he composed for the Zeitkratzer Ensemble, and which uses traditional acoustic instruments, such as saxophone, trumpet, cello, tuba, violin, bass, and percussion. In spite of its atypical instrumentation, the overall aesthetic and effect of the piece is pure Lopez, with its dynamic exploration of sound’s warp and woof. The other pieces on the disc contain surprises as well. In general, Lopez uses his battalion of sound sources on untitled (2005) in an unusually transparent manner: sounds are not abstracted, with rain, wind, birds, and — most unnervingly —Quebecois mosquitoes sounding very much themselves. It’s an intense, dramatic disc and one of my favorite releases from Lopez in the past few years.

 

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