Brandon LaBelle

Concert

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Installation art is extremely difficult to commit to CD. There is always a loss in meaning and impact, even when the audio component plays a predominant part in the work. In that regard, Concert is an exemplary album of installation art. First of all, instead of proposing a single, album-long work, it offers five different installations presented in Italy, Brazil, Denmark, and the U.S. in 2002-2003. Second of all, the booklet supplies photographs and notes sufficient to give the listener a certain understanding of the installation without overloading him or her with details and academic verbiage. "Automatic Building," which physically introduces the notion of "stutter" in architecture, consists, sound-wise, of treatments of sounds produced by the manipulation of furniture. It is the less interesting piece, lacking an audio component that ignites the listener's imagination. On the contrary, the diptych consisting of "Transportation" and "Recycling," both relating to features of the city of Curitiba, Brazil, are fascinating sound works on their own. The first one broadcasts the sounds of found objects recorded throughout the city into one location conceived as a reversal image of one of the city's bus stations. The second piece "recycles" the voices of several people reading back notes they were asked to write down as they perused the city. Both pieces are highly evocative in drastically different ways. Physically built on the template of John Cage's happening "Black Mountain Event," "Event and Its Double" features a symphony of hammers and other construction sounds. "Learning from Seedbed" also takes its inspiration from an older work, this time Vito Acconci's "Seedbed," and once again inverts its meaning, turning the "intimate space" created by Acconci's wooden ramp into a social space. Four contact microphones are attached to the wooden incline, on which members of the audience are invited to walk, stomp, and roll. The resulting sound work is much more arid than the previous pieces and recalls LaBelle's own Music on a Short Thin Wire. Nevertheless, Concert is one of LaBelle's most listener-friendly albums.

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