Aural Terrains

Difficult, on a first listen, to believe that the two pieces by Tomas Phillips and Francisco López featured on IC were born from the same source materials. An attentive ear is definitely going to locate points of comparison – especially in the way in which the artists exploit the sort of remote rumble that calls to mind so many presages and personal intuitions – yet the works are clearly categorized by the diversity of each artist’s qualities.

“3e Transcription” (Phillips) utilizes field recordings and instrumental phantoms as a primary method for psychological involvement, showing the yin and the yang of dynamic management and the familiar/unfamiliar dichotomy with excellent results, the highlight represented by a fantastic pseudo-choral hint to the ephemeralness of materiality that, from the 24th minute to the end, plants the seeds of a desperate regret in the sensitive listener’s heart. It’s one of the most splendid segments heard in the last years by yours truly, the type of vibration that turns physical hopelessness into an equally pathetic quest for a deeper understanding, which will always escape mankind’s reduced vision of essential things.

López’s “Untitled #214” is a rigorous montage of dissimilar sensations. It starts with a loud crash, continues with concrete events apparently marred by a pre-planned disc-error interference (I had to check thrice before realizing that it was not my player’s fault…or was it?). As ever with the Spanish sound artist, silence of the meaningful kind (that which precedes a calamity and stuffs the ears, not the room with an outside bus’ echo and some idiot coughing amidst three guitar “pings” and a wet hiss) is employed with mastery, in conjunction with frequencies that not every human specimen is destined to instantly acknowledge and file. Altered vocal matters, huge subsonic steps and looped clatter (I’d write “industrial”, but the man’s able to create everything from almost nothing) contribute to amplify the level of unease.

All in all, this is a very fine record – maybe this label’s best to date – that requires to be severely scrutinized under any possible circumstance, both technical and individual. Thinking of owning its meanings after a couple of distracted spins means being in the wrong business.

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