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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