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Drenaje subterráneo. PABLO RECHE, JUAN JOSÉ CALARCO
(Siridisc 2012) 

Juan José Calarco is a widely know sound artist from Argentina whose work has a “Musique concrete” approach as he crafts this dazing beautiful experiences that strongly affects our sense of space built with the sounds he captures from actual existing objects, places and landscapes. Pablo Reche, also from Argentina, is one of the pioneering figures in the sound art in Latin America of the past twelve years; his work, more associated with drones and heavy dark pads, have recently adventured in the line of work of capturing sounds and using them for compositional purposes.

“Drenaje subterráneo” (Underground drainage) is a work that is easier to listen and experience than to write about. The relation between the title and the experience the listener can have with the work is sound: through almost 20 minutes the listener feels like he is indeed underground in an experience I’d call speleological.

Somehow when I listen to “Drenaje subterráneo” the word cryptic comes to my mind. The experience of the artists creating or visting an underground drainage system reflects some sort of quest for darkness, a quest for the secret, a quest for the unvisited, the inaccessible and the mysterious. The underworld.

As a reviewer seems to me that this work is particularly effective in two senses: First they had a very specific subject, the experience of going through a underground drainage that is stated in the title. Second the way this experience was instrumented in the sound piece is undeniable vivid, real and recognizable.

“Drenaje subterráneo” is the real thing, is the proper reverberation, the actual water running and leaking. The factual darkness and cryptic quest of going through the fetid and restricted.

This release somehow reminds me of the work of Argentinean visual artist Carlos Herera and his work “Self portrait about my death” where he placed two raw squids inside two leather shoes. The smell of decomposing squids after certain time is very close to the smell of a dead human body.

Smell is a sense that is immanent to things but has briefly been purposely articulated in art or other creative fields. On “Drenaje subterráneo” the artists dealt with the fetid smells of drainage system but they do it by subtraction. It is the actual lack of any olfactory cue what allows for the listener to experience what is subjacent under the unwanted and repugnantly overwhelming element.

Formally the work makes emphasis in the textures and reverberation, the sense of space and the tactile are strongly dealt with here. The listener can feel  the sound waves bouncing off the grey, uneven and wet surface of the concave concrete walls. The water presence is beautifully instrumented creating a sense of continuous underground drizzle of great beauty and effectiveness.

“Drenaje subterráneo” is a work that is perfectly articulated and that makes a lot of sense conceptually and formally, revealing a meaningful experience to the listener.

-Alan Smithee

Pablo Reche website
Juan José Calarco website
Siridisc website