(Mantricum 2011)

“Hypogeum or hypogaeum (plural hypogea) literally means “underground”, from Greek hypo (under) and gaia (earth). It usually refers to an underground, non-Christian temple or a tomb. When Christian underground shrines, crypts and tombs that would be hypogea if the rites and burials were pagan, are called catacombs rather than hypogea, a mistaken discontinuity in sepulture practices is implied that is not borne out by the archeology and history.” – Wikipedia

“Hypogeion” is a 2001 release by Francisco López on Carlos Villena’s label Mantricum published on cassette. On the journal Espasis* Lopez was asked:

Q. “..your work Hypogeion was conceived to be interpreted in a cave. Was this idea motivated to take advantage of the natural reverberation of the place? Was it based only on aesthetic reasons?

A. In part for the reverberation and in part for my stupidity from years ago to link certain things with others. The work is inspired distantly by subterranean animals and others. This is where the dumb idea of  doing the performance on a cave came from. Anyway the show never happened for technical reasons…”

When listening to Hypogeion the movie “Altered states” came to my mind. In this movie, directed by the late Ken Russell, Eddie Jessup, a Psychology professor, experiences the first manifestations of life when perceptively travels back in time through a series of experiments where he undergoes extreme physical and psychological conditions. This movie helps me to structure my experience with Hypogeion in the sense that both deal with similar subjects and both reveal a challenging experience of deep intellectual and sensible reading.

For the listener the experience with Hypogeion is confrontational, it acoustically depicts images of strangeness and weird nature. The premise of the cave deals with the primitive but also with the underground the darkness, the opposite of heaven, the depths.

The link between man and beast has been a subject of great interest for writers, musicians and artists and on Hypogeion Francisco Lopez brings the subject by using a very emotional media: the sound composition.

What I hear on Hypogeion induces me to some sort of claustrophobic anxiety, some sort of space driven fear. The fear can emotionally and physically connect us with our primitive and animal instincts through our survival sense. The primary instinct offers an intimidating and scary image although it’s something that is within us, something that actually protects us but that also can harm us: the monster: the non-rational, the beast-like.

Somehow down the line the great compositional work of the artist and his emotional approach to reverberation puts me in a place similar to where Eddie Jessup traveled back in Altered States, a scary place where I feel brought back to the beginning, to the primary and this is where this work makes so much sense inducing the listener to images and questions that relate to his essence, to his nature, to his origins…the cave.

-John McEnroe

*Escucha profunda (an interview to)
by Udo Látex y Pundonor

Francisco Lopez website
Mantricum wesbite