Public notice: gently-used rooms in David Vélez’ apartment complex have just become available! The artist recently rescued “a large bell-shaped stainless steel recipient, a heavy rusty chain, a large zinc sheet, oil pipes and many other pieces of metallic junk” and hooked them up to his sub-woofer and loudspeaker. Not the best way to make friends! The results, according to the artist, were “pandemonium”.
At what point does noise become music or vice-versa? The answers will vary from person to person, although most can agree on the extremes. To these ears, isolation matter is music, reminiscent of the experimental works of modern improvisors. And yet to David Vélez, it’s an exploration of sonorities. Curious about his junkyard finds, he brought them home like a litter of orphaned kittens (or in this case, tigers). Then he played with them, dragging the rusty chain across the floor and placing the subwoofer within the oil pipe. Each object proved pleasing, perhaps the zinc sheet especially so, as it produced a remarkably deep tone akin to a bass drum.
And yet, something was missing. So like a good chef, Vélez found an ingredient to round out the palette: the dripping, pouring and echoing of water. This intuitive combination of the abrasive and the soothing is the key to isolation matter‘s efficacy. Liquid fills the sonic spaces vacated by truncated reverberations; metal rescues water from placidity. At times, the listener forgets that this is an edited home session and not a live electronic set. This is especially true of the selection’s drone-like center, which stretches from 14:08-19:02, bursting into bug zapper tones at 17:33; and the double hits that begin at 3:53 and reappear at 10:24. Is this music? Whenever recorded sounds are arranged with intention, the argument tilts. Amazingly, it’s the water sounds – the secondary noises, the plebeian sources, so overused in sound art – that make this work seem even more original. Most of us have never brought an oil pipe home, much less rolled it across the floor. But we thought we knew what water sounded like, and now we question ourselves. The liquid’s full sonic potential remains (pardon the pun) untapped. (Richard Allen)