Beequeen: Time Waits For No One

Israel Martinez: Exorcizios

Time Waits For No One's material isn't new, having been recorded in Nijmegen in 1992-93 and originally released in 1994 on Staalplaat, but the genre of experimental drone-based exploration is one of those most capable of transcending time. Beequeen members Freek Kinkelaar (Brunnen) and Frans de Waard (Kapotte Muziek, Goem) use electronics, voices, and unidentified instruments to scatter two long tracks (ten and twenty minutes) amongst seven more modest settings. Whether long or short, the pieces are largely hazy meditations whose industrial churn is speckled with string plucks, percussive patterns, and electronic effects. Not surprisingly, the long tracks make the strongest impression: in the episodic “Six Notes on Blank Tape,” bowed scrapes of string instruments groan over a throbbing bass drone and the simulated roar of a train clatters along its tracks, and in the album's most fully-realized piece, the a doomscape “Rupert Writes a Rainbow,” a ‘50s sci-fi synthesizer floats atop a droning unfurl of whooshes and gaseous emissions. The album's material unfurls organically in subtle strokes, sometimes so quietly it verges on microsound, and the generally relaxed feel suggests the collaborators had ample studio time with which to pursue their playful explorations.

A rare excursion for Abolipop into the realm of electronic sound art, Israel Martínez's Exorcizios is anything but microsound. The album collects five cataclysmic pieces by the Guadalajara-based composer composed between 2006 and 2007 designed to exorcize Martínez's inner demons through audio. Setting the tone, “Weekend” is anything but a peaceful Saturday afternoon on the cottage deck. Instead, it merges diametrically-associated sounds of fire and pool-side children recorded at a small town near Guadalajara with a writhing and rippling colossus the result, out of which the laughter of children emerges in the final minute. “Mi Vida,” which won Martínez an Award of Distinction in the Digital Musics category at the 2007 Prix Ars Electronica, documents the sound of a car ride meeting a sudden, tragic end. Assembled from traffic and engine noise, alarms, and the crashing of metal, the piece challenges expectation by having the crash occur at the outset. As the piece unfolds, the listener struggles to re-order the disrupted sounds into a coherent narrative sequence but the fragments are so shattered they make doing so seem impossible. Reminiscent of the strategies Matmos deployed on A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure, Martínez processes the sound produced by a tattoo machine in the twenty-six-minute, real-time improvisation “Epidermis” (the skin's outer-most layer) and accompanies the sonic violence of ink penetrating the body with the additional violence of a Naked City track (the idea being that the tattooist is playing the material while executing the tattoo). Martínez pushes the experimentation too far in “26 Clásicos en 1” when the twenty-six tracks on a compilation of Mexican “golden age popular music” are played simultaneously, resulting at times in an unlistenable mess, but Exorcizios otherwise registers as a more than worthwhile exercise in sound art experimentation.

August 2008