Francisco López: Untitled #228

Francisco López's training as an entomologist and ecologist comes acutely into play on untitled #228, specifically in its focus on the two micro-detailed sound works he created from raw field recordings captured in various Indonesia locales (Jakarta, Bandung, Yogjakarta, Bira, Makassar,Tana Toraja) by Blindhead. The fourth release on the ini.itu imprint is the sound artist's first solo vinyl release since untitled#92 appeared on Mego in 2000.

An abundance of sounds proliferates throughout the A-side's twenty-two minutes, with the multi-layered material cumulatively enabling the listener to visualize the sonic splendour of Indonesia. The initial emphasis is on human interaction, as a dense fabric of voices suggests activity at a hectic city center or marketplace, but the voices subsequently vanish, leaving a restless churn of noises—some identifiable, some not—in their place. López mutates, processes, and weaves creaks, engine sounds, clatter, and emissions into a constantly mutating mass. He purposefully blurs the lines separating natural and industrial environments, and detaches the sounds from their referential associations until one hears the piece as pure abstract flow.

The second side is a different animal altogether. Cavernous bass tones throb while phantom traces of gamelan appear in the distance, almost as if what we're witnessing is the resurrected spirit of gamelan. If the A-side shows López stitching a battery of sounds into a collage of sorts, the B-side finds him processing the source material until it resembles a prism through which tones are refracted into glassy, micro-tonal streams, all of them shrouded within a muffled veil of reverb. The clangorous character one associates with conventional gamelan is gone, and in its place is an ambient meditation whose ever-intensifying sharp-edged tones exude an overt musical dimension absent from the opening piece. In short, López's untitled #228 makes for a compelling addition to a catalog of work so huge it's been documented by more than two hundred record labels around the world.

March 2010