Francisco López - "untitled #221" (Untitled (2009))
One widely distributed (and inadequately verified) article from early November spoke of the death of the compact disc by the end of 2012 due to the major labels abandoning the format. The rumor lacked substantiation, but that makes it perfect fodder for social network feeds, right? Well, if CDs are in fact facing their imminent demise, then someone forgot to send the memo to one Francisco López of Madrid. His name has graced nine CD releases already this year, and if he most recent, Untitled (2009), were the last to see the light of day before the format’s finale, López would be going out with a bang. Double albums are relatively rare in his mountainous discography, so this 115-minute monster is a whole lotta López, albeit a drop in the Spaniard’s already sizable bucket.
The album’s 14 tracks, ranging in duration from three to 20 minutes, provide a nice overview of some of López’s tricks and techniques. Fitting everything he’s got up his sleeve onto one album, even a double album, would be about as impossible as Noah’s bit of global herding, but Untitled (2009) covers a lot of territory over the course of almost two hours. “Untitled #233” is an unadulterated recording made at Mamori Lake in Brazil, and at another spot across the spectrum, there’s the chilling spectral chorus of “Untitled #231,” created from source material by Phill Niblock. López being López, we’re not always told where his ingredients come from, and that’s part of his magic. López’s music is often best served with a mysterious flair, a sleight of hand that can take even the most mundane of sound sources and make it something completely new. The most surprising sounds on Untitled (2009), though, need no documentation or deduction: even if the snoring that underpins “Untitled #220” and “Untitled #239” isn’t the album’s most alluring material, it’s the most blatantly human stuff I can recall hearing on a López release.
Untitled (2009) provides more music than López tends to release in one go, but the album does so in smaller than usual chunks. López doesn’t often work in durations under 10 minutes, and while there are a pair of 20-minute tracks on the album, most of it is made up of compositions less than half as long. This doesn’t seem to have altered López’s approach drastically, though his microscopic gaze can feel more focused.
Where Untitled (2009) differs is in its diversity. Composed/constructed within a single year, the album packs more ideas into one release than is typical for López, who’s able to build an arresting hour-long album from smallest simplest sounds and barest of audio essentials. Untitled (2009) shows that he’s just as potent when he’s working with seemingly every tool in his shed as he is when concentrating on only one.