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Artificial Memory Trace: Boto [Encantado]

img  Tobias Fischer

In the world of Slavek Kwi, the ear is a curtain separating the world of material objects from a fantastical theatre. Sound is a realm of infinite potentials waiting to be realised in the act of listening, a self-contained world within the mind. This personal philosophy may explain why Kwi's attached a warning to the beginning of the liner notes of Boto [Encantado], effectively calling on his audience not to read them, since "the information is influencing the way you are experiencing the sounds", while "no comprehension whatsoever is required to access this work". There is, as he happily admits himself, a paradox at work here. Of course, he knows that listeners will read on after all, arriving at an extremely detailed fact sheet providing a minute by minute account of what, precisely, they are hearing. Without giving away too much, Kwi has visited the black water and white water reserves of the Amazon in three consecutive years, following freshwater dolphins on their trek through the flooded forests. The sonic palette he's uncovered is spellbinding, from pointillist clicks to almost percussive rattles, from sudden swooshes and thrusts to quiet groans, from solemn blips to lively chatter. Captured, too, are the acoustics of the environment: the lapping of waves, the splashing of water, the friendly hum of a boat motor and the buzz of insects. Kwi adds a structure to these recordings by highlighting, juxtaposing and contrasting certain passages for maximum effect and by injecting his personal taste into the arrangement – wallowing, for example, in an expansive five-minute sequence, which radiates a peaceful, dream-like ambiance. But his narrative never boils down to a linear plot, his subjectivity never claims complete authorship: In the sonic world he's created, humans are merely observers. They're present to listen and to learn, never to impose their will.

By Tobias Fischer

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