REVENANT – Zeltini
Revenant is an open-membership project carried on by a number of specialists of location recording, in this occasion the quintet of Maksims Shentelevs, Eamon Sprod, John Grzinich, Kaspars Kalninsh and Felicity Mangan. The environment inspiring this release is an abandoned Soviet military base in a Latvian forest, comprising large horizontal bunkers where missiles were once stored. One of them – the only that hasn’t been shut yet – was used for a semi-transcendental experience in which the participants spread around the place in almost total darkness, “feeling my way through the space by hand and by ear” as noted by Sprod. As always in this sort of venture, we have to divide things. On a side, the value of the product as a document of a unique event, obviously higher for those who lived it. On the other, audiences at home trying to find elements of interest in something that risks sounding as a thousand of products of comparable origin. In this case, the professionalism of the people involved and their ability of determining the building’s responsiveness and its inherent musicality made the difference and – although I wouldn’t say that the album is really special – a good part of the resounding materials is sufficiently evocative to justify the need of spinning the disc several times to look for additional details and psychological hints. At any rate, let me be very explicit: in this house, stretched frequency auras and baffling resonances will forever be preferred to rustling noises and “scrape, rattle ‘n’ roll” incidents, of which there’s no shortage here.
NICHOLAS SZCZEPANIK & JUAN JOSE CALARCO – Lack Affix
A brilliant record, built upon the grouping of field recordings from Maryland, Washington D.C. and Argentina (Calarco suitably describes his actions as “recreations from memories”). The inside photos give an idea of the nature of the places where the artists attached their contact microphones to gather the fundamental materials, which naturally coincide with a large portion of settings, atmospheres and locations around the globe where similar activities are performed. We’re talking desolation, deserted buildings, metallic synchronization, night-time reverberations, vague recollection. Somehow, though, Szczepanik and Calarco managed to avoid the innate artistic poorness typical of the bulk of this kind of release, producing a set of mesmerizing landscapes and mind-opening aural revelations, sort of prologues to the transition to a superior sphere. The final track – aptly titled “Altered Perceptions Of Past Experiences” – symbolizes all of the above in a succession of known factors: flying airplanes and metropolitan reminiscences imbued of swelling hums and damp electricity justify the calm awareness of an impending end, the magnetism of the ensuing entirety helping the listener to accept that unsolicited feeling.
LUIGI TURRA & CHRISTOPHER MCFALL – Tactile.Surface
The sources for this CD were taped by the artists in completely different settings: Turra’s room in the Italian city of Schio, near Vicenza, and one of McFall’s trips from Kansas to Colorado. The only specified detail is the presence of shakuhachi (a Japanese flute) amidst Turra’s sonic materials but, for the most part, the expert handling of bottomless echoes constitutes the essential matter of this absorbing ride. Tactile.Surface is, in a way, a mixture of familiar constituents and new perspectives on a well-trodden path. Let me just mention the lone thing I didn’t love straight away: repeated clattering and thudding events, processed or less – the “tactile” aspects of the music, supposedly – breaking the spell born from the sequence of murmured solitudes informing the piece. We’re happy that those noisier occurrences are pretty much confined, never prevailing in the overall acoustic balance, as the treatments in the lower regions of the frequency spectrum generate instead outstanding results. A large fraction of the album contains in fact tremendous suggestions, the kind of silently thrumming whisper – enriched by subtle vibrations and subliminal pulse – that characterizes this area’s legitimate masterpieces. Turra and McFall manage to separate themselves from the mass quite significantly with those awesome inspections of the inexplicable, and will hopefully privilege this underground power if further collaborations should follow.