Given a (virtual) box containing the same set of sounds, what would two composers create? Would generational differences lead to “older” and “younger” sounding recordings, quieter and louder, traditional and contemporary? On Fratto9’s just reviewed Boccardi / English split, one artist sent files to another for adaptation, but the two ended up in one place. On Erm, Francisco López and Luca Sigurtà start from the same block, but end up in two different locations.
López is one of the industry’s influences, and his investigations of sound and silence find their fruition here. “Untitled #294” begins quieter than a household hum and frequently returns to this base. Electronic splatterings decorate the sonic room, but noise seems the added element instead of the primary function. Still, as many times as one listens, one’s ears are drawn to the louder, thicker sections. The lighting of a match at 4:16 is also the lighting of the first sonic fire, which catches on quickly and soon engulfs the speakers. Machinery rustles like horses’ feet. Drones arise like desert heat. But at 5:36, the rug is pulled out, leaving only a quiet hum and the soft sound of a shovel. Again and again this dance takes place, advance and retreat, blossom and fall. Does age or experience enable one to better appreciate silence and subtlety? If so, this is its exposition.
In contrast, Sigurtà’s “Eaven” uses sound as the base and silence as the intrusion. Less than one minute in, the extended piece has already established a tentative rhythm, a cycling, xerox-scaled sound. Electronics blink around the rhythm like fireflies. Cars drive speaker to speaker. This is the sound of filling everything in. Again, one wonders if this is the provence of the young. While neither method is “better”, most listeners, whether intentionally or not, will feel the tug of preference in one direction or another. There’s that match being struck again at 5:11 (remember, these are the same sound sources), but this time, it follows only one second of near-silence, and leads to a segment of muted military drums. At 6:01, the sample is repeated, this time louder and more immediate. Other sounds are added and/or amplified: airplanes, motors, geese. As one section recedes, another has already begun. In the tenth minute, a small orchestra seems to tune. And then a hammering, an off-kilter beat. The impression is that more is happening here than on the preceding piece, but only if one discards silence as an instrument of its own. Once one grants silence equal weight, one intuits that the performers, as different as their tracks may sound, are not only painting with the same palette – they share the same concerns, and come to the same conclusions. (Richard Allen)