While listening to Agua Viva, one thinks instantly of rain, but these drips and drops are not the only sounds. On “First the Thirst,” a low level drone visits like wind, dogs bark in the background and wild birds tweet their confusion. “Doesn’t Daphne X know that water is for drinking or bathing?”, the birds ask. She does, but she also admires its percussive potential. “First the Mouth” may be miked pots and pans, but is reminiscent of rain on a tin roof. “First Both” seems to include human percussion, which blends into a lone, repeated piano note as the track progresses. “Now Either” exposes the Rorshach test of droplets, which comes across in the opening minute as a horse’s trot before the artist adds notes of her own. Toward the end, a tribal chant emerges, a reminder of the importance of rain in areas of drought and dirty water, and the joy of the thunder burst. By profiling the patterns of falling water, the artist opens dual doors of appreciation and interpretation.
Once all this rain has fallen, there is bound to be fruit. Philip Sulidae’s tape begins with wind-like breath and scuttling: a human mirror to the nature of Aqua Viva. There’s a lot of percussion in this release, seemingly random yet precise. “Apricot” comes across as a restless child, fidgeting in the back seat, scribbling on the vinyl; but those wet sounds may well be an apricot pulled apart by hungry hands. “Damson” (a type of plum) is packed with snares and almost ~ almost ~ establishes a rhythm, growing particularly busy in its closing minute. The brief “Peach” sounds like rummaging through a drawer, but of course that’s what the artist is doing ~ although his drawer is filled not with objects, but sounds. Late in the track, the hits draw a line back to Daphne X’s “First the Mouth,” a reflection of raindrops on metal. More than anything, Sulidae seems to be having fun. Joy is apparent in the performance, especially when a triangle, chime or woodblock is struck, a reminder of our first childhood instruments. As for the fruit, we’re not so sure; perhaps the titles are meant as colors. Still, the suggestion of fruit is enough to make one’s mouth water, and the softness that ends “Nectarine” may be amplified peeling. To the farm stand we go. (Richard Allen)