(Very Quiet 2013)
Review by David Vélez
The british label Very Quiet has allowed artists and composers to produce and publish works under the ‘very quiet’ premise and this time the turn is for Francisco López. Because of his relevance in the sound art and and acousmatic compositions fields I was curious about what he would do working under this premise. Fortunately the result for me as a listener was very rewarding and in some extend, surprising.
Quietude is usually associated with stillness and steadiness but on this work López seems to approach the project in a novel way, working quietude as a matter of distance.
On ‘Untitled #308’ seems like the events occur far away to the point we can barely listen to them. Distance seem to transform sonic events that resonate on different frequencies into a single subtle low sound which is what we can hear on the Part 2 of this work.
On Part 1 something similar occurs but the perceptual distance seems to be established by density rather than space. Here we can recognize some action and movement but it sounds like a thick and dense wall separates us from the sound-producing events.
Both approaches to distance, and quietude, seems particularly valid and interesting to me in terms of the way it relates with many experiences I have had when loud events are transformed when we move away from them or when an object is placed between the sound source and the listener.
Recently I walked to a mountain close to Bogotá where you can watch over the city and I was amazed by the subtle and quiet but highly noticeable rumble that the city produces when you hear it from above. Similar things have happened to me in beaches and areas close to the sea when one moves towards or against the sea waves and the way it affects the sonic perception of the rumbling sea. Likewise when the neighbors move heavy stuff around or speak loud and one listens to it through the walls the imagination is triggered and one can’t avoid to eavesdrop expecting to hear further details of what is happening on the other side.
All of these experiences raised questions and reflections that were meaningful for me and I when I hear them imprinted and reflected on ‘Untitled #308’ they acquire a more universal and yet personal meaning.
‘Untitled #308’ is not an easy listen in part because of its duration (over 75 minutes) and also in part because there is no sense of detail and the frequencies palette are all in the low end. Anyway this doesn’t diminish the formal value of this work, otherwise I found the listening experience of this release very rewarding.
Finally what I find more relevant and praiseworthy about this release is how it takes on a subject and develops it in a surprising, unlikely and novel way, raising questions about important matters.
When is quiet?
When there is no movement?…
What happens when we isolate ourselves from the sounds that movement produces?…
We might not be able to stop all the movement around us but we might be able to perceptually isolate ourselves and ignore the sound that the surrounding movement produces, that in order to immerse ourselves in a private and personal state of quietude…this sense of quietness is what I feel this work is all about.