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Francisco Lopez - Untitled 2004

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Artist: Francisco Lopez

Album: Untitled 2004

Label: MoSo

Review date: Mar. 26, 2006


What kind of sound do colliding molecules make? Who knows if they even would but if that could, someday, be amplified to perceptible levels, it's a safe bet that composer/sound artist Franscisco Lopez will add it to his lexicon. It would be a logical progression from his latest release, which thrusts the listener in media res, at the center of a high-powered parabolic microphone trained on the sounds within any given landscape. Using source material attributed to a variety of collaborators as well as original environmental recordings from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Singapore airport, Lopez crafts a series of compositions that are far from relaxing, "ambient soundscape"-type listening. Noises are largely unidentifiable, and most tracks end abruptly and unsettlingly, as if a broadcast feed were suddenly lost. Slip this stuff into "Echoes" host John DiLiberto's weekly radio playlist and mellows shall be harshed, permanently.

"Untitled #168" might register on a seismograph. Plumbing frequencies that are more felt than heard, it sets the tone for a challenging listen. "Untitled #166" is no more hospitable. It's a cold and damp and horrible southwestern Pennsylvanian fall. You're mere centimeters from stormwater rushing through a crumbling cistern. Listeners prone to panic may want to skip to the next track. "Untitled #163, the most "industrial" sounding of the lot, hints at a long night locked in a boiler room with Archon Satani to keep you company. Oh, and that boiler room is in hell. A chorus of hissing gases discharge sporadically to the ratcheting of an iron lung and an onslaught of jarring, arrhythmic crashes. "Untitled #171" features raw sound materials from Z'ev, a percussionist long known for his proclivities toward earthshaking percussion. Lopez admirably sidesteps the easy way out of blasting the listener into submission, instead shaving the source material (whatever it might have been) down to an attack-less murmur, a disembodied remnant of a vibrating skin.

Unfortunately, the album's weakest link is "Untitled #154, a comparatively uninspired-sounding treatment of source material from Swiss metal band Knut. Lopez sets the bar so high with the preceding tracks that the edited-together mishmash of the band's trademark angular rhythms and chugging, dissonant guitar riffs falls far short of anything more than a remix. However, avant-garde sound exploration being a largely inexact science, eight out of nine ain't bad.

By Adam MacGregor

Other Reviews of Francisco Lopez

addy en el pais de las frutas y los chunches

Live in San Francisco

Untitled #180

Untitled #244

Untitled (2009)

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