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LOPEZ, FRANCISCO - Untitled (2012-2014)

Format: do-CD
Label & Cat.Number: Purple Soil - purplesoil 008
Release Year: 2017
Note: a great collection of 16 pieces (better: micro-worlds) with different backgrounds, sound sources and concepts, the ideal introduction into the extreme "pure" soundworlds of the Spanish biologist and composer, always working with self-captured environmental sounds from nature or objects, or raw material of others... his 'absolute music' may lead to 'absolute listening', where a new consciousness begins... "almost like the ego death of a psychedelic experience" [Russel Cuzner, The Quietus]
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"Francisco Lpez consistently audacious journeys into the hidden worlds of sound are hard to keep up with. The past twelve months has not only seen him showcase his uniquely processed field recordings in the form of several startling albums and concerts, but he also conceived and directed the epic audio-DH, a collection of 195 tracks by 250 artists based in The Hague and then fed the results into a system he co-developed to autonomously create 'meta-compositions'. It would seem he is on a mission to serve up deep listening material in quantities impossible to devour. But, unlike those of us struggling to cover such sterling work, he sees the ubiquity of soundworks as a "blessing" leading to the obsolescence of "comprehensibility and regulation" and leading to "an expansion of the very concept of audio-artist".

Untitled (2012-2014), is a good place to start should you wish to dip your toe into his ocean of sound. It brings together sixteen pieces from various underground compilations to give a broad survey of Lpez' idiosyncratic approach. Ranging from two-and-a-half to fourteen minutes in duration, each piece is like a portal into a new, but related dimension. With deliberately little by way of context, the consistently untitled pieces of processed sound matter may initially suggest a field of insects (untitled #317), the elements (untitled #311) or an air conditioner (untitled #304), but once the brain has dropped its urge to comprehend you become immersed in vortices of vibrations whose hidden qualities emerge continuously, almost like the ego death of a psychedelic experience." [Russel Cuzner, The Quietus]

"These two new releases from the legendary composer may have come out around the same time, but they both represent extreme ends of his work. The former is a two disc, 16 piece compilation of shorter works created over the span of two years, covering a wide gamut of the Lpez sound. The latter is a flash drive containing a single work (split into 11 distinct parts) five hours and 20 minutes in length, all based on a single sound source. They may be distinctly different in composition and construction, but both are brilliant works in his already shining discography.

Untitled (2012-2014) is the more accessible of the two, or at least as much as that term can be applied to Francisco Lpezs often difficult work. Consisting of 16 pieces ranging from just shy of three minutes to a bit under 14, it functions well as a compilation or overview of the work he has been doing in that time span. One thing that does define these works (and seeps into Untitled #352 as well) is an intensive use of low frequencies. Listening on headphones (as recommended) results in some moments of near silent volume, but significant vibrations and rumbling.

One of the major reasons for the diversity of these two CDs is the differing sources of sound Lpez utilized to create them. Four of the pieces stem from raw sound material provided by other artists that he radically reworked into his own compositions. "Untitled #316 (for Zbigniew Karkowski)" uses material from the late composer (and friend of Lpez) to create an expanse of low frequency that, without adequate headphones or speakers, would probably sound like complete silence. With the addition of shrill digital static, the piece builds to a harsh roar before falling back to the open space. At times I could not tell if what I was hearing was actually on the recording or sound of my headphones barely being able to handle the low end noise.

In a similar vein, "Untitled #297", using source sounds from the artist Shhh is another pastiche of extreme frequencies. It functions almost as a study of significant contrasts, where foundation shaking low frequencies are paired with almost ultrasonically high register noises verging on the upper limit of human hearing. In truth, it is not too dissimilar to the approach of some of the earliest Whitehouse recordings, but here executed with a scientific, almost clinical precision.

Most of the remaining pieces are works derived from field recordings, although in a less obvious manner than Lopez has presented on his Epoch series of recordings in recent years. Here is where a significant amount of variation can be heard. "Untitled #293", created from recordings made in Lima and Panama City, leads off with an almost startling lack of bass, but instead glistening, shimmering shards of noise. The volume rises and falls, and sounds almost resembling horns and pseudo-rhythmic segments appear, before the piece ends on a foundation rattling note.

There are also pieces included with less clear sources, but are no less engaging. Voices appear at erratic times throughout "Untitled #296", augmented by swirling tones and understated electronics. There is a notable amount of activity to be heard, though where it is coming from is anything but clear, ending with what sounds like a sharp spring reverb passage. "Untitled #304" is at first what I would consider a "standard" Lpez composition: a droning, almost air conditioner like din sets the mood as quiet electronic-tinged noises cut through. Later, however, and almost drum-like thump is introduced that gives an entirely different feel to the piece." [Creaig Dunton/Brainwashed]