Francisco López’s “DSB” reviewed by Vital Weekly

The title doesn’t tell us much more than Francisco Lopez’  myriad “Untitled” works do; I’ve no idea what DSB is an acronym for, if it’s even an acronym at all. So I’m really unsure what this album is all about… which I imagine is fine with Lopez. While many of his previous albums have little by way of cover art, this one has an image… is it a blue sky? Or a painting? Or… who knows? Looking for context seems to be beside the point, so I’ll accept “DSB” as pure sound and not attempt to discern more from it than an experience of listening. The first side is a college of domestic machine clanking, airplanes (sourced from… a war movie?), engine roar, the hum of empty hallways, burbling water and gusts of air… each one treated as an isolated episode with sudden jarring edits from one sonic space to the next. “DSB” is not obviously organized with a dramatic though-line, as many other Lopez works are. A noisier section about 3/4 of the way into the first side that pairs breaking glass and irregular thump with what might have been hurricane-force winds could have been the focus of an entire piece. Unfortunately, it cuta off abruptly, shifting focus to an entirely different density… and then again… and again… and I started to wonder if the editing was random. Side two picks up where side one left off, with small someone-shifting-their-weight-in-a-chair movements accompanying a distant cyclic whine. After seven minutes of this, Lopez changes the channel again and we’re listening to a worn copy of “Changez les Blockeurs” on a record player at the bottom of a lake… and incongruous heavy breathing (hey, I like that TNB record also, but… keep it to yourself, okay?)… before more jarring edits that seem unrelated to one another… and we end on a battlefield with a sudden stop. Most Lopez albums are challenging. I expect to not have an easy listen, to have all the pieces spelled out and handed to me. “DSB” is no exception. But when this ride ended, I was left wondering what I just heard. The second time through didn’t make anything more clear. Was there cohesion to the source material that will reveal itself to me after further listens? Or is the episodic nature of the composition significant to a theme of war or machines or… is it purely sound and I should accept it as exactly what I heard and nothing more? Lopez certainly isn’t saying. But where other Lopez albums make a visceral impact without so much as a title or cover art, I feel that “DSB” would benefit from some context. (HS)

via Vital Weekly

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