Francisco Meirino is the composer formerly known as phroq; in the past two decades, he’s released over a hundred solo and collaborative ventures. After such achievements, most performers would be content to rest on their laurels. Not so Meirino, whose new work continues to display innovation. Because this latest album sounds so contemporary, it would be easy to mistake it for the work of a younger man; instead, it reflects the wisdom of experience.
On the surface, An Extended Meaning for Something Meaningless is an electronic album, but to classify it as such would be to sell it short. It’s not an album to which one might dance, groove, or nod one’s head. Instead, it’s an exploration of electronic timbres, fleshed out with field recordings and reel-to-reel tapes. Auditory Field Theory describes it as inhabiting “the decaying fringe of the audio spectrum”, but in the hands of Meirino, decay has seldom seemed so alive. The three untitled tracks, especially the first and third, are packed with pops and hums, metallic pings and modular notes, like a sonic dumpster in the midst of being overturned. Ennio Mazzon is an obvious relative, as is Robert Hampson; Meirino is in good company with such contemporaries.
The irony in seeking to capture the sound of decay is that once it is captured, it is preserved, and as such it is no longer decaying. This album might better be described as a snapshot of decline. The reel-to-reel falters, and in its faltering lies its beauty. The field recording grows corrupted; memory splinters and fades. The middle piece seems to contain the sound of a film projector on its last legs, turning without image as traffic passes outside a neglected theatre. In the alleyway, ravenous dogs scrape the metal lids from garbage pails and search inside. The title comes across as sardonic; once meaning is provided, the meaninglessness dissipates, providing another form of decay.
The closing piece is clogged with motors and turbines, the whirs and clanks of a factory floor crossed with an auto repair shop. In this segment, everything seems to be falling apart at the same time as it is being fixed, as if a pointless, ongoing struggle is unfolding. One might extrapolate a lesson about life, in that human nature is to create and destroy in equal measures: on a larger scale, to die and to be born until the planet crumbles under our weight. And yet the only escape from such a cycle may be the art that reflects it, in this case the magnification of the subliminal and ignored. (Richard Allen)