Francisco López ~ untitled #408

Andrew Weathers and Cody Yantis’ brand new Rural Situationism label launches this week with untitled #408, a striking sound work from Francisco López.  The label has planned 10 site-specific field recording discs for the year, followed by “an end of year journal with related text, photos, and other ephemera.”  We’re extremely happy to see a new imprint in this genre, as so many have fallen by the wayside in recent years, although we applaud the continuing efforts of such labels as Unfathomless, Gruenrekorder, Impulsive Habitat, Green Field Recordings and others who continue to celebrate the power of sound.

There is likely none better to launch the label than López, one of the leaders in the field, pun intended.  The sheer number of López’ releases speaks to his dedication.  Now on untitled #408 (in addition to his titled recordings), the artist shows no sign of slowing down; in fact, the new recording is one of his most fluid releases to date, a single, visceral, 74-minute piece.  The listener is left to their own devices in terms of interpretation, the only clue the location of the American Southwest.  A soft start leads quickly to an arid turn, reminiscent of cracked ground and rusted machinery.  A hot wind blows; a scorpion tests the air with its tail.

After seventeen minutes – an eye blink in the desert – the density drops significantly.  This second phase is footfalls and rustlings, a vast, quiet space in which one is deeply aware of one’s own sonic intrusion.  One hears rock on rock, an impression of solitude.  An insectoid sound indicates that greater activity may be near; and rounding the corner of the 26th minute, the sonics leap again.  Such sharp dynamic contrast prompts different modes of listening: leaning in to perceive softer sounds, and trying to distinguish noises in a crowd.  The give-and-take will continue, the field of activity densest in the elongated center, a near-cacophony made even more exciting by the entrance of coyotes.  Their cries retreat alongside the volume, inextricably linked.

This quiet section seems deeper than the last, dominated by the lonely wind.  One wonders if it is better to hear coyotes or not to hear coyotes, once one knows they are near.  Is the pack stalking silently, or has it gone away?  The wind beckons a precipitous front, a dashing of sheets, a flash flood in the desert, streams where there was sand.  This is not a safe place, but awful and awe-filled.  After dashing for shelter, the artist stares at the fury raging mere meters away.  The final fifteen minutes create space for reflection, folding into a seeming silence broken by the startling buzz of a single fly.  (Richard Allen)

One comment

  1. mlamberg

    this album is just incredible. thank you for writing about this. i’m pretty sure this will stay in my rotation for the whole year, just phenomenal.

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