[Dis] location

(Sirona 2012)

Review by Cheryl Tipp

The premise for ‘[dis]location’, a collaborative project between JD Lopez and Jason Kavanagh, came from a desire to explore the complex relationship between sound, source and subject. The concept was straightforward enough. Both Lopez and Kavanagh would delve into their personal archives and each create two original works based on urban, rural and domestic field recordings. These pieces would then be exchanged and remixed to reflect each artist’s personal style and take on their counterpart’s composition.

The four original works – ‘Form Factor’ & ‘Shape Factor’ by Kavanagh and ‘Inside the Machines’ & ‘Caliban’ by Lopez – are absorbing pieces in their own right, but real interest is sparked when listening to the remixes. Kavanagh’s original pieces possess an intense, metallic character that creates an industrial, almost oppressive atmosphere at times. This style contrasts well with Lopez’s lighter touch. When remixing the work of Kavanagh, Lopez is able to subtly blunt that harsh nature, creating new works that have a more open, spacious feel to them. A good example of this is the thirteen minute piece ‘Shape Factor’. Even though Kavanagh’s piece is highly conceptual, it still conjures up images linked to industrialism; furnaces, mines, factories, chains, systems and sirens all come to my mind, even though none of these elements can be positively identified. In contrast, with Lopez’s remix, it feels as if the ceiling has been lifted slightly, the heat has been lessened and a shard of light has begun to sneak through. This is of course a highly subjective take on both versions of ‘Shape Factor’, but it does illustrate how individual techniques and approaches can become more apparent when laid out side by side.

‘Caliban’ is another example of this. The elements chosen for this original composition from Lopez are lapping waves, occasional birdsong, thunder and another unidentified element; something akin to a snake rattle that approaches and recedes. Right from the start, Kavanagh’s style is imprinted on the remix. It becomes harder to distinguish the original elements and the piece suddenly acquires a weightier, otherworldly feel that was absent before.

‘[dis]location’ is a success for a variety of reasons. Firstly, both Lopez and Kavanagh are talented recordists and composers who enjoy the experimental and creative processes attached to phonographic sound works. Secondly, the two styles, which on the surface are quite different, somehow compliment each other and lend themselves to creating successful remixes. For me, ‘[dis]location’ also examines the idea of an artist’s signature style which, whether consciously of not, runs through their work, evolving over time but always there. This publication makes you think beyond the actual compositions and is a worthy addition to the Sirona Records discography.

[Jason Kavanagh left, Jay-Dea Lopez right]

Jason Kavanagh website
Jay-Dea Lopez website
Sirona website

Cheryl Tipp

Wildlife sounds curator at British Library.