Francisco López: Live in Auckland

There's precious little information accompanying this single-track, forty-four minute travelogue laid down by experimental provocateur Francisco López in Auckland, New Zealand during 2004 so all impressions must come from listening alone. Sounding much like a factory operating in full throttle, the piece springs into life with machine rhythms and gaseous emissions that grow steadily more powerful and numerous. After the episode abruptly ends just before the ten-minute mark, faint insect noises and wind sounds fill the near-silent gap until a deep chord's repeated shudder ominously announces the start of the next section, which in turn prompts the fly buzzing to escalate and intensify. Halfway through, the setting moves from the factory floor to a clock showroom as multiple devices chime synchronically. That in turn morphs into a seething cloud of industrial dust that slowly fades away to nothingness. Things turn ghostly in the final stages, as fleeting glimpses of apparitions escalate into a harrowing climax of violent strafings and churning rhythms. His sound works apparently have appeared on more than 150 labels which suggests, then, that the Auckland set is pretty much business as usual for López. But, even if that's so, Live in Auckland is nevertheless a carefully-calibrated exercise in abstract sound sculpting that exemplifies a deft control of dynamics and development.

April 2008