Alejandro Franov: Champaqui

Gongs and synthesizers introduce Alejandro Franov's Champaqui, the first of many moments that help distinguish his recording from others in the field recordings-based genre. A prominent figure in Argentina's experimental music scene, the Buenos Aires-based composer and multi-instrumentalist uses the sacred mountain Champaqui, which is located in Córdoba, the western province of Argentina, and at a height of 2790 m. is the highest peak in the province, as a conceptual springboard for a project that fuses field recordings captured at the location with synthesizers, gong, and flute.

The Córdoba setting is evoked repeatedly in the sounds Franov threads into the material. “La Poblacion,”  the shimmering, organ-styled drone that opens the album, is dotted with abundant bird chatter, while “Colanchanga” is dominated by a gentle wheeze of wooden flutes that also evokes the South American locale. Listening to “Ascochinga,” the listener can easy visualize Franov playing the wooden flute within the setting when the sound is accompanied by a wealth of field recording details of the natural environment (e.g., insects, rustlings). “Los Terrones” perhaps hints at the threat industrial technology poses to the natural environment in the grit-covered pulse that dominates much of the track. A notable exception to the rule is the longest setting, “Sierra De La Ventana,” a dreamlike drone of meditative character whose tones drift peacefully through a blanket of mist. In fact, the piece, being more minimal in design and heavily synth-based, suggests the distant reaches of space more than it does any earthbound setting.

The album's forty-seven-minute duration is well-considered, as are the individual track lengths, which extend from two to sixteen minutes. Another plus is that each of the seven pieces offers something slightly different, which helps make the album reception stimulating and engaging when the listener never knows what the next moment will bring.

February 2013