Francisco López’s “DSB” reviewed by Aural Aggravation

From the very opening seconds, Francisco López’s latest offering assails the ears and scorches the brain: the first track – which hits the magical running time of twenty-three minutes – is nothing short of explosive – literally. Opening with a roaring blast of brutal harsh noise, it soon separates into a series of samples and sounds, whereby propeller engines swoop low, spitting machine-gun fire and dropping detonations all around and bomb blasts tear the air. I’ve previously described certain noise works as sonic blitzkriegs, but this is actually nothing short of total war – captured in audio. 

DSB is the accumulation of a decade’s work, which was, apparently, created at ‘mobile messor’ (worldwide), 2009-2019. Mixed and mastered at ‘Dune Studio’ (Loosduinen), 2020.According to the press release, López’s objective over the forty years of his career to date is to ‘Destroy boundaries between industrial sounds and wilderness sound environments, shifting with passion from the limits of perception to the most dreadful abyss of sonic power, proposing a blind, profound and transcendental listening, freed from the imperatives of knowledge and open to sensory and spiritual expansion’.

But with DSB, López doesn’t just destroy boundaries. It destroys everything in an obliterative sonic attack that’s sustained for some forty-five agonising minutes. 

When it does pull back from the eye-popping extremes, it presents a dank, ominous atmosphere, and one minute you’re underwater, as if being drowned, the next, your head’s above water and you’re surrounded by a roaring sonic assault that lands blows from all sides. The quieter moments are tense and oppressive, and with unexpected jolts and speaker-shredding blasts.

A low rumble and clodding thuds and thunks, like slamming doors and hobnail boots create a darkly percussive aspect that dominates the start of DSB-B… but then you’re under water again and everything is muffled… you can’t hear or breathe, but all around there are bombs and you’re feeling the vibrations in your chest. It’s all too close and you’re terrified. It’s eighteen and three-quarter minutes of ominous atmospherics and tempestuous crescendos of noise, raging storms with protracted periods of unsettled turbulence in between as strong winds buffet away. The dynamics are extreme, as is the experience. 

Something has clearly shifted here: López’s work a decade ago was predominantly experimental, wibbly, electronic ambient in its leanings, predominantly layerings of drones, hums, and scrapes. Interesting enough, exploratory, but not harsh. Yet DSB is so, so harsh, it’s positively brutal. But these are harsh times, and when everything is a grey monotony, same news on a roll on every outlet, the instinct is to slump into an empty rut.

DSB will kick you out of that and kick you around unapologetically, landing boots in the ribs, and then more. It will leave you dizzy and drained. But it will make you feel. And that’s essential. Christopher Nosnibor

via Aural Aggravation

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Jos Smolders’s “Submerge-Emerge” reviewed by The Wire

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Pedro Rebelo’s “Listen to me” reviewed by Neural

What do nanotechnologies, innovative industrial food safety processes and experimental music have in common? Is the ‘charm’ of certain sound environments alone enough to inspire an entire album of contemporary experimentation? Yes, if the formal result is so rich that it almost conceals the fact that its essence is simple field recordings. A residency in 2017 at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory, in Braga (Portugal), was the starting point for this project by Pedro Rebelo. Rebelo recorded sounds that came from the laboratories, machinery and broader environment of the centre. The quantity and quality of the sounds emanating from these workplaces was surprising: from the acoustic signals of the equipment, to the enormous air treatment fans, to the whistle of the liquid nitrogen used, to the millimetric precision of the ultrasounds one use for the treatment of specific substances. Rebelo’s residency resulted in a sound installation at GNRation, developing a further investigation and amalgamation of the collected sound materials. There are two pieces – respectively of about sixteen minutes each – presented in this cassette-release. Rebelo’s background as a pianist and improviser is evident in a complex musicality, rich in variations and refined juxtapositions. Pedro Rebelo has been Professor of Sonic Arts at Queen’s University Belfast since 2012 and the recipient of two major scholarships from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. One of these includes his interdisciplinary project “Sounding Conflict”, which investigates the relationships between sound, music and conflict situations. Rebelo is a specialist in the topic, boasting participatory projects involving communities in Belfast, the favelas of Maré, Rio de Janeiro, itinerant communities in Portugal and a slum city in Mozambique. Listen to me is a compelling work, and both suites feature some very evocative passages, slightly mysterious but always controlled, impeccably managed, with field recordings that almost replace individual real instruments or electronic effects. Aurelio Cianciotta

via Neural

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Francisco López’s “DSB” reviewed by The Wire

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Øyvind Brandtsegg’s “Nancarrow Biotope” reviewed by The Wire

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“GML Variations” reviewed by Vital Weekly

The Robotic Gamelan of Casa de Musica is just as cool as you’d imagine it is. In fact, Google it right now. Check out some photos of the thing, then meet me back here… see, isn’t that a neat thing? Gamelans are cool… robots are cool… and so a robotic gamelan is very cool. Pedro Tudela and Miguel Carvalhais are the composers behind @c and the Cronica label. In 2018, they were commissioned to write a piece called “GML 123” for the Robotic Gamelan to play; their generative digital composition activated the gamelan and introduced new sounds into the space. This album includes that piece and also four studio-created variations (the title is quite literal) and a coda. Because this is, essentially, the same piece repeated a few times, I found that it works better listened to one track at a time rather than all in one sitting. The pace and density remain similar from start to finish, which suggested to me that “GML Variations” is better considered as a collection of individual pieces than an hour+ single experience. But gamelan music is just so lovely, listening to the ringing percussion steadily morph into elongated digital smearing tones is a lot of fun. The 4th variation is my favourite; it’s the most removed from its recognizable source, 30 minutes of slow liquid volleys with hints of ringing bells and reverberant acoustic space. (HS)

via Vital Weekly

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“Submerge-Emerge” reviewed by Vital Weekly

Jos Smolders was inspired to write “Submerge- Emerge” by a teenage encounter with an 1897 poem called “Un Coup de des Jamais N’Abolira le Hasard” by Stephane Mallarme. As art tends to do when a receptive kid encounters it for the first time, the poem stuck with Smolders for decades afterwards. He continued to think about it, wrestling with the poem’s meaning and the effect that it had on him. In 2016, he decided to write a piece of music based on the poem. Now, writing experimental-type music based on a poem is, generally speaking, a silly thing to do. You’ve no doubt heard endless academic pretentious tape-and-voice nonsense music based on poems. Smolders, though, has long used language as inspiration for his music, and always with a uniquely personal perspective. He’s also a thoughtful enough composer to not fall into any cliché traps. “Submerge – Emerge”, then, is one of the most exciting and beautiful albums of his career, one that I’ll keep returning to long after this review is written. The album is more about the poem’s themes and ideas than simply a sonic backing to recited text. There are long stretches with no words at all… just shimmering pools of synthesizer tones, cavernous drones and field recordings of boats, beaches, and water (an element reflected from the poem’s water imagery). The album is lovely and engaging… episodes (labelled as “interludes” and “plates”, implying parts of a book) seem to comment on one another, working both individually and as a flowing whole. There’s a lot to chew on here, whether one traces sonic elements and compositional choices back to Mallarme’s poem or not. (HS)

via Vital Weekly

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Pedro Rebelo’s “Listen to me” reviewed by The Sound Projector

We last heard Portuguese composer Pedro Rebelo in 2011, when he played stiff classical piano on Faint for the School of Music and Sonic Arts of Queen’s University in Belfast. He’s here today with Listen To Me(CRONICA 161-2020), a process based electro-acoustic thing which seems to continue the academic lineage to some degree.

The starting point is scientific research conducted at the Iberian Nanotechnology Lab in Braga, where they’re working on projects associated with food safety. Rebelo isn’t doing the research himself, and I sense he could care less about whether that tin of Red Beans conforms to international food standards, but he does like the machines he found in the labs. Yes, everything from air fans to compound mixers, and the hissing sound made by liquid nitrogen when you pour it out, all of these sounds were fair game for his microphones of curiosity. He found it such a rich environment that he couldn’t help but imagine the machines were coming to life and whispering “Listen To Me” in his ear, hence the title of the work. He created a sound art piece, did it as an audio installation in GNRation, and then remade it into the two sides of this cassette.

Pedro Rebelo is probably not the first electro-acoustic composer to make use of the rhythms and grinding drones of machines, but he turns in a decent canvas on this occasion, with plenty of dynamics and textures and very little in the way of unwanted post-processing and “treatments”. In this manner, he allows the devices to speak for themselves. I’m not learning anything much about nanotechnology, or about food safety, or the work of those scientists in the INL, but that’s probably not the point. All the same, I do prefer it when a musician can engage with the subject matter a bit more, exhibit a bit of conceptual rigour. Ed Pinsent

via The Sound Projector

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New release: @c’s “GML Vars. Live”

As a preamble to @c’s upcoming album, GML Vars. Live documents Pedro Tudela and Miguel Carvalhais performing its source materials and compositions. GML Variations will be available next March as a limited-release CD and is now available for preorder.

GML Vars. Live is now available for stream or download!

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Øyvind Brandtsegg’s “Nancarrow Biotope” reviewed by Soundexpeditionen

Und nun etwas komplett anderes.
Diese Musik hab ich seit Dezember hier liegen. Mehrmals angehört und ich wusste sie nie so richtig zu fassen.
Die Musik von Conlon Nancarrow ist mir bekannt, aber auf einer Orgel?!?
Ich muß zugeben, dass ich mit dem ersten Hören dieser Veröffentlichung so meine Schwierigkeiten hatte.
Ich mag Orgelmusik, schon als Jugendlicher bin ich gern in Orgelkonzerte gegangen.
Vor allem, wenn modernere Musik wie Messiaen gespielt worden ist.
Allerdings ist diese Musik für Pfeifenorgel, Disklavier und Elektronik schon sehr speziell.
Aber da hier auf diesem Blog doch mehr ungewöhnliche Musik und auch neue Musik vorgestellt wird, ist das genau das richtige. Wer also das Neue und Unbekannte liebt, der sollte diese Herausforderung annehmen.
„Vector & Intervals“ wäre ein guter Einstieg, aber das kann auch ganz falsch sein.

via Soundexpeditionen

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