Every May 17, visitors to Crete experience strange visions at dawn on the anniversary of the battle of Fragokastello. Soldiers process from the church to the sea, descending with all their horses. Turkish rebels fired upon them in 1890; Germans did the same during WWII. This visual phenomenon inspired Pietro Riparbelli to prepare an aural mirror. In Uncodified Signals, he attempts to capture “residual waves” and to amplify them to the extent that they can be heard. Shortwave radio receivers and field recordings are fed through angled sculptures, but those who can afford the price (1500 euros) can replicate the experience using their own sources. That’s a lot of money (more than Björk’s tuning forks), but there are only two available, and they certainly reflect the artistic aspect of the label. A digital version will also be offered.
The music is mysterious: dark and droning despite the presence of cooing pigeons. A block of wood is dropped in the opening seconds, leading one to think of the sound installation. But static discharges, unidentified voices, desolate scrapes and filtered organ soon conjure images of crumbling cathedrals, drawn swords, a march toward the sea. At the end of Part 2, everything moves to one speaker, as if to make room for a stronger force. Part 3 begins again in the modern day, as more articles are dropped. The line between past and present, reality and impression, remains permeable. By the fifth track, the signals seem to passing along the wires, but a thunderstorm threatens to tangle the transmission. The voices reappear in the closing piece, along with footsteps and looped choir, like aural mirages left to decay in the ether. The speaker that earlier captured the drone buzzes like an angry king. Everything fades into one final hum, the sea swallowing its own. If the Drosoulites of legend exist, they are gone once again, waiting only to re-appear the following year. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 21 March