Francisco López

A Szellem Álma

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Some collaborations are just meant to happen, but it still took over two years for this one to see the light of day. A Szellam Álma is part of Francisco López's series of collaborative albums released on his wandering imprint .absolute. This particular item came out on .absolute.[koblenz], a division of Bernhard Günter's label Trente Oiseaux, one of Marc Behrens' main channels. A Szellam Álma is a two-CD set. Disc one features a 64-minute work in five parts by Behrens, composed from sound materials supplied by both artists. Disc two contains a single 74-minute track by López, again created from sound materials supplied by both parties. Whether these sound materials were the same or not is very hard to say and ultimately irrelevant. Traces of López's signature sounds (his white noise that is not quite white noise) and Behrens' sound shapes (shards) and pacing are found in both pieces, but in the end these two incarnations of "A Szellam Álma" are basically typical works for each composer. Behrens' piece is rudimentary at first, shifting between periods of silence and white noise, and grows increasingly complex, with the addition of strobing clicks, more delicate shapes, and softer forms of nondescript sound matter to the building blocks he uses, all arranged in a way that suggests an impressive architecture yet never quite reveals its nature. López's piece is another exercise in self-disappearance. His textures occupy the physical listening space, establishing an abstract sonic ecosystem that becomes so obvious-sounding it vanishes from the listener's mind. Its presence is felt again only when it suddenly disappears. The prolonged silence that follows has the same effect: after a few seconds -- even minutes -- of waiting for the sound to reappear, the listener's attention wanders off and forgets about the disc still spinning in the CD player, until a new texture claims back the space a few minutes later. From shortwave-like in-between broadcasts to the sound of a loudspeaker breathing, both sounds and silences are as puzzling and confounding as ever. Which can be good or bad, depending on your degree of exposure to López's modus operandi.