Mattia Loris Siboni asks, “how many types of silence exist?” The framework is reminiscent of Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska’s The Quiet Book, which explores quiet ~ and silence ~ as multi-nuanced entities. One suspects Siboni would enjoy The Quiet Book, as the opening piece contains a snippet of Shrek, along with Toy Story and Ratatouille (8 1/2 weeks also; which of these things is not like the other?). There’s the silence of snow, the silence after a faux pas, the silence of a library, the silence demanded in a court, the silence of the lambs (sorry, couldn’t resist).
“Now Hush and Look Around” provides a potpourri of sounds and samples, starting with teletype noises that introduce the acousmatic format. The video includes black frames, akin to silence, albeit not aligned with silence, and toys with expectations: a peaceful scene over a loud noise, the silence of a man falling. The presence of Eddie Murphy adds to the surrealist feel. The visual silence of an empty swing is followed by the silence that follows the strike of a bell ~ a silence that can be measured, but leaves the ear quicker than the air. The placid trees, the birds and the wind lead to a cacophony of sight and sound in which first silence, then sound, is extinguished.
Dynamic contrast sparks dialogue. A friend entered while “Balumina” was playing, and thought she heard conversation, a crowd gathering outside; she was unaware a composition was unfolding, and mistook the tribalistic chanting as the sound of suburban neighbors! Before long, the piece is loud and rustling, shuffling and pounding; but then the sounds are suddenly gone, replaced by a crow and a creak. “Mind the Gap” is barely audible at first, but hums and pops to the forefront. The silence of the space between train cars … the silence after someone falls in. One is more aware of silence whenever it alternates with sound, a rare trait in modern music, which prefers to stuff every available opening. In contrast, the white-on-white cover art conveys a subtler gradation.
In the closing piece, nature topples into the loudness of humanity. One can imagine the disruption of the industrial age. Even the soft footsteps seem loud, an intrusion. But every musical work must eventually be swallowed by silence ~ the silence at the end of the composition, presaging the end of all things, a pre-death. For but a second, the ear is tricked into mimicking true silence, before the din of the world floods back in. (Richard Allen)