If given the opportunity to watch a group of children at play in a room full of new toys, many would be curious enough to accept the invitation. Would one respond in the same way if given the opportunity to hear two Spanish musicians at play in a studio filled with keyboards and noise, given the instruction to simply have fun? In essence, that’s the concept of of Privenv Highly, captured on cassette by Barcelona’s aptly titled Lovethechaos Records.
It’s hard to disregard the rules when one doesn’t know what the rules are, so it’s a good thing this recording appears on a new label. The only rule is, there are no rules. And so first of all it’s a cassette, arguably the most toy-like of formats, and secondly it’s been scrawled all over like a child’s drawing. This seeming randomness is part of the appeal. The irony is that no child could have made this recording; the melodies and sense of dynamic contrast are too acute, despite its anarchic leanings. Lost Objects‘ cassette may look and sound like it comes from a toy box, but it was clearly designed by adults. The joy comes not from watching children act as children, but from listening to adults trying to act as children and failing, because they lack a child’s sense of complete abandon. Privenv Highly comes across as a celebration of childlike energy, followed by a wink and a shrug of the shoulders: we may be childlike, but we’re not immature.
The tape is short, but it’s packed with sound, like that of an invention factory in which all of the mechanical devices are turned on at once. It’s a gleeful presentation of sounds: pulling, pushing, winding, whirring, beeping, bleeping. Meanwhile, someone’s having a fun time on the keyboards. Privenv Highly isn’t going to win any composition awards, but that’s the point. It’s more like a conglomeration of “Oh, what’s this do?” moments, filled with pokes and prods, smiles and shakes. As such, it operates better as a full album than as a series of dissected tracks. The fun is in witnessing the free play, rather than breaking it down. Would the duo be more effective if they were to compose rather than to improvise? One suspects that something would be lost in the process. Better to just dump all the toys on the floor and see what happens. (Richard Allen)