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Scott Arford / Francisco Lopez - Solid State Sex / Solid State Flesh

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Artist: Scott Arford / Francisco Lopez

Album: Solid State Sex / Solid State Flesh

Label: Low Impedance

Review date: Jan. 15, 2006

Scott Arford’s new release, Solid State Sex, on Low Impedence, is packaged as a double disc with Francisco Lopez’s Solid State Flesh. Lopez’s piece, a 73-minute track of low frequency trembling that rises and falls in volume, sets off Arford’s shorter, more composed explorations in the nature of static. These artists inhabit the international academic-noise milieu, a genre so abstract that it seems monolithic, so placing them side-by-side brings valuable variation to the fore.

Like Lopez, Arford is an academic, but in art rather than entomology. His Static Rooms series of installations draws aural static from color-field video compositions. Arford describes the experience as synesthetic: viewers hear color and see sound. Another piece, the conceptual Total Static Takeover declares “that from this day forward, April 13, 2003, all instances in which the phenomena of VIDEO STATIC occurs shall be constituted as a screening, partial screening, or instance of the video TOTAL STATIC TAKEOVER.”

Arford describes static as “paradoxically at once infinitely in motion, yet fundamentally unchanging;” Solid State Sex can be heard as a demonstration of this duality. Its six component pieces, recorded live from 2001-02, are united by static’s grainy, fuzzy quickness, yet they vary in overall effect and composition. Pieces like “Aluminum Airway” incorporate calm washes of high-frequency shimmer. The following track, “Point Loads and Surfaces,” diverges extremely with spaced-out, rhythmic static taps, ranging from popcorn kernels to gunshots. It’s the most beautiful piece on the album.

After the playfulness of “Point Loads and Surfaces,” we move on to “Dirty Power,” a grumbling beastly rant, like grizzly bears killing under northern lights. In three consecutive tracks, Arford has sculpted lowly static into three discrete moods.

Solid State Sex isn’t synesthetic like Static Rooms, but it conjures flickering mental images through noise. This quality is cast in relief by Lopez’s Solid State Flesh, which decontextualizes sounds taken from nature. Bundled together, the projects of these two artists are diametrically opposed. Arford is interested in sounds generated by visuals and visuals generated by sounds, a duality that reaches its apotheosis in synesthesia and is symbolized by static. Lopez seeks pure sound, one medium unpolluted by any other.

By Josie Clowney

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