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Francisco Lopez - Untitled #180

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Artist: Francisco Lopez

Album: Untitled #180

Label: Alien8

Review date: Feb. 7, 2007

Francisco López seems a man of consistency, both aurally and visually, and the Madrilenian’s catalog reveals the same minimalist tendencies as consistent signifying themes of his work; the artwork is scant, with little on the cover (if there is one) save his name and the title of the release (as it were, since most are untitled), named only numerically. López’s music is in the same vein, a dark mass of sound that often borders on the subliminal if played at conventional volume; were it to be turned up loud enough to hear clearly, the music would be a consistent decimator of speakers with its low-end rumble. His is music of a most threatening ambience, its silences packed with tension, its quiet the permeating source of an unsetting air. Field recordings from all over the world are warped far beyond recognition, the end result something far more universal, like the geography of each locale swallowed by a black ocean in the wake of López’s departure.

For López, Untitled #180 is a departure in more ways than one. The overall anatomy of the piece is one well in line with López’s established aesthetics, though the source material and construction of the music is of a more novel nature. Rather than traveling across the globe to obtain the track’s sonic ingredients, López simply made way to his local cineplex, culling from recent blockbusters a library of samples from which he built Untitled #180. While his music never seems to offer up clues as to its origins, the energetic collage of this disc contains telltale fragments of its ingredients’ former lives, with its snippets of sound often recognizable in a general sense (broken glass, soft winds and solitary footsteps) or more precisely (the notorious mechanized respiration of George Lucas’ most ominous villain). These musique concrète constructions of cinema sounds are some of López’s most vigorous work, more caterwauling and overtly energetic than his usual fare, and there’s even a sense of fun involved, a rarity in the composer’s habitually serious work. But, as always, López has his dark side, evident here in the near-silences that separate the flurries of sound, which, as usual with López, serve not as respite but as a chance to build tension; López draws the listener in, coaxing them to concentrate on hearing the ghostly rumble, only to strike back with another burst of winter gale, engine whine or reptilian roar.

Untitled #180 is worthwhile as more than an aural game of cat and mouse, however, as López’s selection and placement of samples creates a textural experience that’s fun to inhabit, familiarity of the source material or not. The disc isn’t as impressively enveloping as much of López’s other output, but, while his music often threatens to swallow the listener whole, amidst the chaotic flurry of activity, evisceration seems a more logical metaphorical peril. Untitled #180 isn’t likely to forecast a wholesale shift in López’s work, but it’s an engaging divergence from the more intense atmosphere of much of his work, likely both for artist and audience.

By Adam Strohm

Other Reviews of Francisco Lopez

addy en el pais de las frutas y los chunches

Live in San Francisco

Untitled 2004

Untitled #244

Untitled (2009)

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