Scopes is a work of interactions and articulations, of a subconscious dialectic between feeling and perception, the manners in which sounds occupy the head and blaze new spaces of consciousness. Created by young Mexican composer Diego Lozano and played by modernist guitarist Héctor Murrieta, the pieces emerge from graphical notation and a series of gestural improvisations, a communication between composer and interpreter that not only levels their often one-sided relationship but also becomes a clear transmission of uncertainties, inasmuch as the process of association between sounds and colors is as abstract as it is concrete. While arguably every composition is an uncertainty at heart, most of them are tilted towards the vision of composers, but what Lozano has done here is grant the player full collaboration in the development of a base that is shared not only in the logic of the language of notation, but also in the possibility of perceiving sounds within the material confines of drawings and colors.
The first scope, “Articulated Spaces”, immediately engages the listener with subdued echoes, with the resonance of a drop of water in a calm underground lake, ripples flowing through the surface after impact. The mapping this entails (who hasn’t ever dropped a rock in a dark tunnel or well, or at least seen it done in a movie?) provides not only a sense of what the space is like, but also how it flows together. The score is a perfect circle whose outline is divided into two spaces intertwined by an erratic, seemingly hand-drawn line; perception stumbles in its articulation of spaces perhaps because its tools to make sense are a mixture of thoughts and intuitions, different spheres of knowledge accessed by consciousness at various degrees. The drawing accompanying this piece suitably makes that line into nodes that connect various rectangular shapes of different colors that sometimes overlap, but that for the most part would remain separate if not for sound-like vibrating lines that reach out to grasp them.
The first two sections of “Perpetuum
Mobile (The Light Unbearableness of Being)”, the second piece, work like a microscopic close-up of the first, disallowing any emptiness in the articulation and filling it with sounds, at first a simple enough counterpoint sequence, then a series of increasingly rapid single sounds that pullulate into a hive, only to finally zoom out into an echoing soundscape once again. The score reproduces the format of the first piece, but is less self-contained, with the circle’s periphery no longer divided into two – instead, the erratic line has now been doubled and their meandering has grown even more dramatic. The drawing is entirely nodes and color clusters, like an image of cellular life and a galaxy of both self-contained and open objects that gravitate towards each other, that connect in an infinitely multiple manner, like a neuronal mass ebullient with activity.
Things change with the third track, “Lapse Vertigo (Or the Terror of Error)”, with a score that is no longer circular in form but somewhat like a pyramidal construction, with the base detailing the ‘general process’ while the middle and top sections relate to the accessories (a slide and an e-bow) and the specifics of tone. This apparently solid structure gives way to much more fluidity than first apparent, with elongated sounds that bend back and forth like wails. It is pure color, with no clear definition of a spatial configuration like in the other two pieces, no point of gravity, no nodes with which to grasp the interaction of the rational and the intuitive: a bright sublime, a terror that does not paralyze but sets the imagination free into that which is uncertain, the perfect plasticity of the unknown.
“Meshes”, the fourth piece, has three simple gestural indications that visually relate to frequency and volume, and which the composer refers to as forms of scratching the strings. Even though there’s a more chaotic quality to the sounds here, the scratch becomes a manual articulation of intensity. Where the other tracks were much more wide in their spatial suggestions, “Meshes” follows interconnected lines, sequences of volume born not from the echo or the ambience but from the bodily force that plows an unevenly distributed but yet symmetrical path. Imagine, for example, the lines your nails would leave on paper if you dipped them in ink and then proceeded to scratch it: practically parallel, and yet weirdly, fundamentally disparate (and separate). The drawing follows those lines as a grid where colors sometimes cluster, and where the lines, in contrast especially with the first two tracks, sometimes do not meet.
The fifth and final piece goes back to nodality from the very name, “Infinity in Finity”, with a symmetrical, rectangular score that nonetheless translates in the drawing into circular color patterns that surround large neuronal masses of articulation. Not surprisingly, it is the most ambient of the compositions, with sounds that linger and delay, that rise and fall, that emerge and fade like stars. Every colorful mass is a constellation in itself, but together, with every sound that fades, they constitute an unknowable number of constellations at the edge of perception.
Scopes is a complex, deeply interesting work that continues the marginal modernist tradition of graphical notation with great care, exploring the relationship between the visual and aural arts as the function of a spatial configuration of consciousness that reflects back into what is being perceived. Essentially, you should sit back, put up the visuals on your screen of choice, and listen to them. (David Murrieta)