Francisco López

Untitled #92

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It's easy to say what Fransisco Lopez' "sound art" is about. His compositions use both natural and manmade environmental sounds -- gathered from Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rice, Senegal, and others points in between -- and then processes them until they are unrecognizable. (He relates to Pierre Schaeffer and musique concrète here.) Lopez does not use synthesizers or any electronically generated sounds. (He relates to R. Murray Schaeffer and acoustic ecology here.) By abstracting sounds out of themselves, Lopez drains all referentiality from them, to create "pure sounds" for a "profound listening" experience. It's relatively easy to say what it is going on here, but the experience of it is little expatiated. It is absorbing and affecting as well as ineffable in a way that is not Romantic. In the experience of it, the art escapes the horizon of its theory. This record, released on the Austrian Mego label, consists of two tracks on each side which are variations on a single idea. Each track sounds like a loop of white noise. Each has a different consistency, depth, and tonal range. Played at a loud volume the fields of noise open, stria of sound stratify, and articulated bands emerge and recede. Listening, it becomes difficult to keep track of the loop's progression (did it sound like this before?) and the qualities of sound (has that sound been there all along?). In concert, Lopez has placed multiple copies of this record on a series of turntables and faded in and out combinations of loops at a deafening volume. This has the effect of obliterating the mind's ability to differentiate sound from sound -- and what usually perception divides, ends up dividing perception. Of course, you could just sit and listen to it quietly at home against the patter of keys, drifts of wind, and heretofore unnoticed chimes of sun, which works well too.