Haarvöl + Xoán-Xil López’s “Unwritten Rules for a Ceaseless Journey” reviewed by Aural Aggravation

Useful points worth noting by way of a preface: Unwritten Rules for a Ceaseless Journey

documents three pieces composed for dance, commissioned by Ballet Teatro for the play Revoluções (Revolutions) by choreographer Né Barros. The in three parts are designed to embody formal idealisations of the three decisive layers of time — past, present, and future.

The three tracks each span around fifteen minutes, and the first, ‘Something’s Missing (Utopian) begins with elongated, scraping drones… and continues onwards with ominous hums that swirl and eddy around a barely-audible hissing buzz. A rolling organ while emerges from a clamour of shuffling intangibility to provide a vague semblance of form and instrumental musicality, but the it’s sad and sinister in equal parts, conveying a sense of loss while reminding us that the past is dark. The muttering voices, inextricable individually: are those the voices of the dead?

It seems entirely fitting that the pieces should melt into one another: time always transitions seamlessly, and in terms of life lived, it’s difficult to appreciate the fact that every passing second is stacking up the record of time past as the present slips away instantaneously. It’s also fitting that the present, as represented by ‘The Pulsating Waves (Reality)’ flattens into an indistinguishable mid-range hum that groans and sighs and whispers. Metallic sparks hiss way off on the horizon, forever out of reach. There’s a sense of emptiness and despondency about this inhospitably bleak sonic wasteland, even as it swells into an altogether smoother, denser, broader droning hum. It’s the sound of absence, a dulled absence that lacks dynamism or detail. So much positive, pro-mindful life-coaching material and contemporary self-help verbiage tells us that we should live in the moment; but the fact of the matter is that the moment is invariably empty, bleak, depressing.

‘Don’t Look Back, Run (Trauma)’ is solid advice: it’s impossible to retreat to the past, or to recreate it, despite the booming nostalgia industry’s suggestion otherwise. To commit too much time to reflection is to lose oneself to the past and deny the possibility of progress; but, to run to the future without due attention to history is to be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. There is a balance to be found. The album’s final track suggests a certain degree of balance: it’s slow, its form emerging from dragging pulsations drawn out in bowed strings – or ersatz assimilations thereof – which gradually diminish into a rumbling gust of wind, blowing grey, blurred particles into a formless mass. The future is, and will forever be indistinct, unclear, as unpredictable as the weather, fashion, and our fragile emotions. And in the dying minutes, it crumbles to a cloud of grey obscurity, lacking shape, form, and tonality, a vaporous viscosity of… what? Uncertainty. Murky, messy, abstraction. What the future holds, we know not: the present is unsettled, dangerous, turbulent. The present is well out of hand, and the future yet more so. Christopher Nosnibor

via Aural Aggravation

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Trondheim EMP’s “Poke It With A Stick / Joining The Bots” reviewed by Bad Alchemy

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Trondheim EMP’s “Poke It With A Stick / Joining The Bots” reviewed by Bodyspace

Percebe-se imediatamente aquilo que nos espera, logo à primeira faixa: ouvem-se vozes, assobios, numa espécie de coro call and response, dialogando ou, melhor ainda, duelando entre si. E depois há saxofones, guitarras, contrabaixos, canto, spoken word sem serem amálgama. Cabe de tudo, porque todas as estradas servem para chegar até ao destino ou, pelo menos, para apreciar a viagem.

Assim é este disco do projecto Trondheim EMP, que na verdade é dois: Poke It With A Stick, experiências atrás de experiências e retalhos atrás de retalhos, e Joining The Bots, que se apresenta mais coeso e definido – a isso atestando, também, o facto de as peças que o compõem serem maiores. A ideia de base de um e outro é, pelo que percebemos, a comunicação entre os músicos presentes, que parecem estar sempre dependentes daquilo que fazem primeiramente os seus colegas – as acções de um influenciam o som de outro, conforme é explicado.

Poke It With A Stick / Joining The Bots são, por isso, uma espécie de diálogos entre o homem e a sua própria sombra; a sombra é forçada a imitar o homem, qual marioneta nas suas mãos, mas: também pode crescer mais que o homem, dobrar-se, esconder-se noutras sombras e escuridões. Tudo isto resulta numa colecção de sons que, individualmente, nada diriam; juntos, formam uma obra bizarra, e extremamente interessante derivado dessa mesma bizarria. A conferir sem medos. Paulo Cecílio

via Bodyspace

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Haarvöl + Xoán-Xil López’s “Unwritten Rules for a Ceaseless Journey” reviewed by Toneshift

A startlingly effective drone runs through the new collaboration between Galician artist Xoán-Xil Lópezand the trio Haarvöl (Fernando José Pereira, João Faria, and Rui Manuel Vieira) on the three stilling pieces on Unwritten Rules of a Ceaseless Journey. In 2019 to date, this is by far, my favorite record. It’s a bit breathtaking and hard to write about as I listen. The track The Pulsating Waves (Reality) calls for more of a lateral experience since the mediating tones are as sublime as subliminal. These works touch on three nearly intangible states of mind: utopia, reality and trauma – in that order. The first two really find a perfect balance even while referencing impossible texts such as The Utopian Function of Art and Literature (1964), and making references to “cataclysms of industry, rampant misery, naked exploitation, the ecological apocalypse“. Oh, such is the everyday.

Though their collaboration juxtaposes the sense of euphoria that comes with hovering drones by imposing the concept of all variants of time: past, present, and future. This work documents pieces composed for dance (Ballet Teatro‘s Revoluções) by choreographer Né Barros. Field recordings abridge electronics somewhere in the middle and the pairing of this quartet of creatives is genius. And by the end of the second part it’s as though we’ve been through some sort of industrial cleansing.

As Don’t Look Back, Run (Trauma) opens somewhere in the darkened orchestral corners, the setting sort of falls to the depths of the soundstage as if falling away into space. The bare bones percussion is uniquely minimal and the waveform is set back, drifting moderately. About one-third through you hear what sounds like strings calling out, wavering a bit as if sending an encoded distress signal. López has taken this amalgamated tale to a secret place while upending the tension with the harmonics of Haarvöl. While a rotor seems to be at play the bereft refrain continues through until nearly the end, and after fading from earshot the listener is left with something pressurized that seems to be sinking away into some sort of watery depths. You can easily imagine bodies (dancers) undulating into darkness. TJ Norris

via Toneshift

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New release: Haarvöl + Xoán-Xil López’s “Unwritten Rules for a Ceaseless Journey”

Haarvöl’s three permanent members — Fernando José Pereira, João Faria, and Rui Manuel Vieira — collaborate with Xoán-Xil López, a Galician sound artistic working on field recording and experimental music.

Haarvöl develops cinematic soundscapes, with analogue or digital sound sources weaved in complex and detailed compositions. They have been active since 2012 and have thus far released albums at PAD and Moving Furniture Records, presenting now their first release in Crónica, Unwritten Rules for a Ceaseless Journey

This album documents three pieces composed for dance, commissioned by Ballet Teatro for the play Revoluções (Revolutions) by choreographer Né Barros. The work is divided in three parts, embodying formal idealisations of the three decisive layers of time — past, present, and future.

First moment: Something’s Missing (Utopian)

Theodor Adorno and Ernst Bloch discussed the problem of utopia as a possibility in a heated debate they produced in 1964 and later published in the book The Utopian Function of Art and Literature. It is in this context that Bloch launches the notion of “something’s missing”, to seek to configure the utopian possibility. It is also from this notion of Bloch that the possibility of thinking and forming forms the whole utopian revolutionary essence that presides over emancipatory developments. This “before” is decisive for the understanding of the idea of revolution. It is here that the necessary possibilities are produced and, above all, the utopian aspirations of fracture and change. The Blochian “something’s missing” leads to the emancipatory idea from that place without place that is utopia. Or, putting it another way, it powers the immensity of thought without limitations. The revolutionary effervescence of the before is, perhaps, the most essential condition in the approach to the idea of revolution. Exactly because it does not come across any limit, because it is located in this place without place. But it is from this realisation that we can deal with the power of free thought, with the immense intentionality of this missing something which, being above all a naturally porous and cloudy thing, offers itself to the immense beauty of total openness. It will be there, in the dematerialised embodiment of free thought, that the whole process develops and is also in the possibility of art as a place of freedom (another place with no place that exists only between the artist and his work in a utopian dimension) it has its approximate representation.

Second moment: Pulsating Waves (Reality)

Pulse tone waves are frequencies embodied in a pulsar that is at the same time decisive for all humans and, metaphorically, for the revolution. Feeling the pulse of events, of agitation, of breaking, is essential for the revolutionary moment. It is this kind of continuous auscultation that determines success or, rather, the inversion of the whole emancipatory movement in the process of pragmatic transfiguration which, by obvious ineffectiveness, becomes implosive. The pulsations of events thus assert themselves as a decisive engine, and yet, in the face of the weakening of the utopian drive in its inevitable collision with reality, everything changes. The passage from one moment to the other brings with it the presence of the now and the consequent structural modifications that the utopian impossibility needs to maintain itself as an emancipatory impulse. It will then be in the programmatic transfiguration of the revolutionary event that its pulsation is played, more or less strong, but never absent. The decisive clash also affirms the reality, stripped of all the romantic drive that forms the revolutionary utopia. The fracture induces realism, and this is never the dreamed face of emancipation. We are told in the last book of the Invisible Committee that “All the reasons for making a revolution are there. There is none missing. The wreck of politics, the arrogance of the powerful, the reign of the false, the vulgarity of the rich, the cataclysms of industry, rampant misery, naked exploitation, the ecological apocalypse … do not deprive us of anything, not even being informed of this. ‘Climate: 2016 beats record of heat’ says Le Monde in its main title, now already like almost every year. All the reasons are met, but not the reasons that make revolutions; are the bodies. And the bodies are in front of the screens.” Right.

Third moment: Don’t Look Back, Run (Trauma)

Says Hal Foster in his seminal book The Return of the Real: “An event is only recorded through another that recodes it; we become what we are only as deferred action (Nachträglichkeit). This is the analogy that I want to emphasize for the modernist studies of this end of the century: historical and neo-vanguard vanguards are similarly constituted as a continuous process of protension and retention, a complex retransmission of anticipated and reconstructed futures-that is, in a deferred action that abandons any simplified scheme of a before and after, cause and effect, origin and repetition.” The same scheme of thought can be used to analyse the revolutionary event in its complex structuring and temporality. An emancipatory event can only be constituted if it recodes traumatically past past events which will obviously mean a learning that will bring you the possibility of introducing the necessary changes to be made. That is to say, still according to Foster, that the emancipatory events are, therefore, less new and more deferred. Suppressed in part, they will return and continue to return, and yet they will return from the future, such is the paradoxical temporality of utopia.

Note: At a certain point in Giorgio Agamben’s book The State of Exception, he refers to a determinant question: the point of view that, in this context, is determined by a legal order that requires recognition by another that opposes it. Quoting Italian jurist Santi Romano, he says: “… after having recognized the anti-legal nature of the revolutionary forces, he adds that this only works in this way in relation to the positive law of the State against which it is directed, but this does not it means that, from a very different point of view, from which they define themselves, it is not a movement ordered and regulated by its own right. This also means that it is an order that must be classified in the category of originating legal systems, in the sense that is attributed to this expression. In this sense and within the limits that have been indicated one can therefore speak of a right of revolution.” That is to say, still in Agamben’s view, that the idea of state legal ordering is the only one, by effectively opposing what is usually called chaos, is first and foremost reductive and fallacious. One thing, however, is correct: all the mental structuring concerning the duality exclusion vs. inclusion simply depends on the point of view. And this is perhaps the most important point to make clear the relationship that is intrinsic and impossible to conceal, first of all, because it is also the source of the essentiality of the politician, that is, the necessary verification of antagonism. It is, therefore, the place where we want to be.

  • Composed and performed by Haarvöl and Xoán-Xil López.
  • Haarvöl (Fernando José Pereira, João Faria, Rui Manuel Vieira): Electronics and field recordings
  • Xoán-Xil López: Electronics
  • Mastering: Stephan Mathieu
  • Images: Rui Manuel Vieira
  • Design: José Carneiro
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Trondheim EMP’s “Poke It With A Stick / Joining The Bots” reviewed by Toneshift

It is entirely indicative of the calibre of those involved, that Trondheim EMP manage to do something that is so often done terribly, so remarkably well.  Regardless of a listeners’ particular fondness for the types of sound they produce, there is no denying that the group is comprised of an extremely proficient membership, a fact that, more so than perhaps the confines of the research project upon which they are working, underscores the album as a whole. 

There are several strings to Trondheim EMP’s bow. On the one hand, it is an album of semi-improvised, ultra-collaborative free-jazz and contemporary composition, with an almost ritualistic take on its subject. On the other, it is the sonic output of an academic research project exploring ‘cross-adaptive processing as a radical intervention in the communication between performing musicians’. Cronica have put together a pretty in depth press release, which impresses by virtue of both the interesting concept, and the aforementioned calibre of those involved – a quick scan of the personnel reveals luminous figures such as Øyvind BrandtseggMiller Puckette and Simon Emerson attached to the project. 

Musically, the group harness a range of influences and styles, invoking both the more esoteric composers of the Darmstudt school – in particular the likes of Kagel / Stockhausen – and the slightly saccharine, cheesy end of free jazz.  Whilst we are not dealing with anything resembling ‘traditional’ or even ‘popular’ music, there is no small amount of bass licks and saxophone squeaks such as has become synonymous with a certain genre.  To temper this, Trondheim EMP toy with a darker, murkier edge, pushing their collective machination in to the arena of doom-jazz – indeed, certain moments of certain tracks wouldn’t feel entirely out of place on a Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble record. 

For all the focus on group dynamics that the system presumably promotes, it is the quieter, sparser moments in which the album shines. Subtle, bubbling textures and a more considered approach to extended vocal techniques are revealed whenever the collective pull back enough to allow it, and, it is then that I hear, or at least think I can hear, the nuance of the performance system they are exploring. Tracks such as  ‘Heavy Meta’ utilise droning, ambient tones played alongside sporadic drums, demonstrating an intriguing synergy between its players in the process. Likewise, the genuinely bonkers ‘Synchronise your Dogmas’ is part vocal drone, part post-punk, weaving potentially desperate elements together to form an intense and unusual experience. 

Whilst there is a great deal of interesting music on offer, the project is perhaps slightly hampered by the sheer volume of its output.  Consisting of two albums – the first more abstract, the latter more structured – the whole affair clocks in at over 2 hours, and it would be reasonable to suggest the quality fluctuates. Whilst there is a great deal of innovative and exciting music therein, it does occasionally veer into areas that are a little tired, perhaps even incongruous. Extended vocal warbles, and some borderline offensive bass-lines, whilst they may assist the exploration of the system as a whole, dampen the overall experience, reducing the power of some of the more refined, amorphous elements.  Ultimately, it feels there is a sublime 50 minute album here, buried amongst another hour or so of stuff that, though largely very good, sometimes repeats the ideas on display and feels somewhat less urgent.

The strength of the academic system upon which the album is based is perhaps most evident when the music is at its least associative.  The interplay between often quite diverse elements seems more explicit, more fully realised, and presents wonderful changes of dynamic and timbre that seems to somehow transpose across the instrumentation. Such an approach tends to tame some of the more… outlandish (read: potentially irritating) elements. In a track like ‘Within Reason’, the range of the human voice, rather than demonstrating extended capacity for its own sake, instead determines or feeds off the increasingly caustic and arrhythmic composition that frames it. If the wealth of material on offer is perhaps excessive, there is an audible logic to its presentation. Whilst the second half sheds the vitality of the first, it replaces it with a certain precision that, ultimately, benefits the project as a whole. And whilst I might wish for an abridged version of the album, some trimming of its metaphorical fat, the project, from its conception to its realisation is of an undeniably high standard. Daniel Alexander Hignell-Tully

via Toneshift

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Haarvöl + Xoán-Xil López’s “Unwritten Rules for a Ceaseless Journey” reviewed by nitestylez.de

Put on the circuit via the Portuguese Cronica-imprint only recently is “Unwritten Rules Of A Ceaseless Journey”, the latest album collaboration by Haarvöl and Xoan-Xil Lopez which consists of three, each 15 minutes spanning tracks which were commissioned works for a theatre piece named “Revolucoes”. Opening with “Something’s Missing (Utopian)” the artists pave the way for things to come, providing a nervous, brooding journey into cold’ish Dark Ambient before progressing into calmer, spaced out territories with this one. The follow up “The Pulsating Waves (Reality)” keeps things on a near static, slowly evolving level of droning Deep Listening Music before “Don’t Look Back, Run (Trauma)” continues on a path of calm desolation and darkness, resembling the greyscale tristesse of a postapocalyptic, and maybe not too far away, future in which only the remnants of the nuclear fallout provide movement on otherwise empty streets, covered by poisonous and deadly dust particles lit by a pale moon.

via nitestylez.de

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Haarvöl + Xoán-Xil López’s “Unwritten Rules for a Ceaseless Journey” reviewed by Die Subjectivisten

Fernando José Pereira en João Faria zijn sinds 2014 de kernleden van de Portugese groep Haarvöl, hoewel er dikwijls gasten aanschuiven voor de muziek dan wel beeldmateriaal. Voor dat laatste mogen ze nu steevast rekenen op Rui Manuel Vieira. Ze maken veelal een grofkorrelige mix van drones, glitches, veldopnames, ambient en allerhande experimenten. Voor hun nieuwste album Unwritten Rules For A Ceaseless Journey werken ze samen met de Spaanse muzikant Xóan-Xil López, die doorgaans met veldopnames en experimentele muziek werkt. De drie langgerekte stukken van elk een kwartier, die ze hier presenteren, zijn gecomponeerd voor dans, in opdracht van Ballet Teatro voor het toneelstuk “Revoluções” (revoluties) van choreograaf Né Barros. De drie composities staan voor het verleden, heden en toekomst. Die noemen ze op de cd overigens respectievelijk “Trauma”, “Reality” en “Utopian”, hetgeen ze tussen haakjes achter de titels van de nummers plaatsen. Ze brengen een broeierige mix van drones, experimenten en ambient, aangedikt met diverse veldopnames. Hoewel de muziek behoorlijk duister en abstract is, weten ze je genadeloos mee te sleuren op een biologerende trip, waarbij heel veel te ontdekken valt in hun intense geluidsbrij van hoge viscositeit. Je moet het daarbij ergens zoeken tussen Orphax, Celer, Philippe Petit, Machinefabriek, Jasper Tx, Svarte Greiner en Kreng. Een geweldige en indrukwekkende muzikale reis, waar je (inderdaad) onophoudelijk naar wilt blijven luisteren.

Een schitterende soundtrack voor de nacht, verval en andere duistere zaken. Klasse!

via Die Subjectivisten

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New release: Ephraim Wegner & Daniel Bisig’s “Jetzt”

Jetzt is a chronological deconstruction of Max Bense’s poem with the same title. Meaning “in the now”, it may also be translated as “so far”, “up to now”, “but now”, “hence” and so on. Bense refers to the fact that the spoken word JETZT never reaches the point of what is denominated with “in the now” – the moment you say it out loud, it is already gone. The poem is a play on words as well as an acute insight on the structure of German language. The work uses Markov chains to generate text strings that are smashed into sound particles. They are stretched and shrunk on a time axis and enter into a relationship with each other – “in the now” – performed by a synthetic artificial female voice. Jetzt is published in an audio-only format and as an audiovisual piece.

In [269.17, 278.81, 300,77 | 260.33, 312.68, 377.24, 518.55] different sine waves and noise generators produce frequencies in the 19-division scale. These frequencies are combined and clustered with the help of different random variables and probability distributions to create interferences that place the emphasis on the frequency interval between the tones. The electronic is using a fixed framework to create chords, consisting of two, three or four single notes, with wide variation in structure and density. This piece aims to focus the attention of the listener on the vast density and complex richness present in their combination.

The audiovisual version of Jetzt is a one-take recording performed at the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology of the Zurich University of the Arts. The connection between music and visuals progresses through different relationships, with control parameters for sound synthesis occasionally affecting the image generation, and spoken words becoming periodic attractors for the moving graphical elements.

Ephraim Wegner holds a chair in Computer Science at hKDM Freiburg and is working at the Media Ecology Lab / Hochschule Offenburg. He received his master’s degree in audiovisual media at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne (KHM). Wegner has a keen interest in the sonification of complex systems and uses various computer languages (C++, Java, Python, Csound, GL_SL) to combine different forms of audio synthesis and computer graphics, focusing on multidisciplinary approaches and concepts. He collaborated with numerous other musicians, ensembles, festivals and institutions, among others ZKM (Karlsruhe), Ars Acustica (SWR2), Acht Brücken Festival (Cologne) and Donaueschinger Musiktage. In 2015, he was awarded a scholarship from the Kunststiftung Baden-Württemberg.

Daniel Bisig holds a master’s and a PhD in Natural Sciences. He is active as a researcher and artist in the fields of artificial intelligence and generative art. He has worked as a researcher at the Institute for Biochemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich. He is currently a senior research associate at the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology of the Zurich University of the Arts. As part of his artistic activities, he has realized algorithmic films, interactive installations and audiovisual performances, some of them in collaboration with musicians and choreographers. The derivation of generative algorithms and interaction techniques from biomimetic simulations forms a central aspect of his work.


  1. Ephraim Wegner & Daniel Bisig: Jetzt [stereo] (20:37)
  2. Ephraim Wegner: [269.17, 278.81, 300,77 | 260.33, 312.68, 377.24, 518.55] (15:01)
  3. Daniel Bisig & Ephraim Wegner: Jetzt (audiovisual) (5:23)

Thanks to: Astrid Wegner for supporting our work. Stephen Altoft, who inspired the generation of frequencies in the 19-division scale in [269.17, 278.81, 300,77 | 260.33, 312.68, 377.24, 518.55], furthermore he was playing the microtonal trumpet at another version of the piece. Miguel Carvalhais for his continued commitment and the energy he spent in this wonderful label.

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Haarvöl + Xoán-Xil López’s “Unwritten Rules for a Ceaseless Journey” reviewed by Vital Weekly

Portuguese trio Haarvöl (Fernando José Pereira, Joao Faria and Rui Manuel Vieira) have so far released five albums, three of which are on the Dutch Moving Furniture Records label, one on Pad and one of Family Film Project Edition. Not every member plays an instrument, as they are very active with film as well. Their music is an excellent blend of dark electronics, heavily processed field recordings and such like while using a combination of analogue and digital instruments. Their work is a mixture of improvisation and composition. Here they work together with Xoán-Xil López, “a Galician sound artist working on field recording and experimental music”, as Cronica notes, without giving much other information. Ballet Teatro together commissioned their work for the play ‘Revolucoes’ by choreographer Né Barros. There is a lengthy explanation in the press text about the three movements of the piece (each around fifteen minutes), which I couldn’t summarize. With releases like this or soundtracks to movies, the lack of visual experience is something that we have to live it. I find assurance in the fact that the label thinks it is worthwhile to release the soundtrack independent of the film or the dance, and as such we are at liberty to judge these without having to consider the film or the dance. I am not sure how roles are divided here with the players in relation to the total experience, but from what I hear they do exactly as I think I would expect. In all three of these pieces they work their way through some lengthy, massive blocks of drone-based sounds, from sources unknown (but believed to be field recordings; obviously!) and in the final track, ‘Don’t Look Back, Run (Trauma)’ the looped sounds of a violin/cello/otherwise stringed object, all of which are fed through a long line of effects, loop devices, granular synthesis and who knows what else. Reverb plays an important role to suggest space and atmosphere (perhaps: another box ticked there?) and in ‘Something’s Missing (Utopia)’, there is fuzzy melody played out, which is quite nice. The piece in the middle, ‘Pulsating Waves (Reality)’, is the most obscured piece, with very closely knitted tones and field recordings, without much differentiation. It is all quite fine, solid work without being a great, original masterpiece. That, of course, is not really a big problem; it is the current state of work and that is a great one. (FdW)

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