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CD Feature/ Francisco Lopez: "Wind [Patagonia]"

img  Tobias
There is no such thing as “pure sound”, of course. At least not in the sense that it could ever be entirely without reference. And yet, on “Wind [Patagonia]”, Francisco Lopez returns to a place, where these references loose their meaning and dissolve as the music unfolds. This ideal goes hand in hand with a listening process, “which doesn’t deny what is outside the sounds”, according to Lopez, “but explores and affirms all what is inside them.” The result of this quest has turned out mindshattering, but how can one talk or write about an album which just wants to be heard and nothing else?

No substitute for listening
And/Oar have thankfully ignored the possible dilemmas between form and philosophy and placed the existentialy pitchblack CD inside a luxurious supergloss Digipack, accompanied by a 16-page booklet whose colour photography pays tribute to the sparse planes and raw romance of Patagonia. Inspired by the music, Christoph Cox delivers an intoxicating, smart and informative essay in the booklet, which gives hope for the reinvigoration of the long-lost art of linernotes. Cox places “Wind [Patagonia]” in the context of the trilogy which opened with “La Selva” and continued on the 2001-effort “Buildings [New York]”, he draws elegant parallels with Burke and Kant and observes the particular importance of the microphone (a “sine qua non” of field recordings as he puts it) in this instance, because wind can only be heard when it touches objects or surface areas.

Neither Cox’ article, nor the artwork, however excuisite as they may be, can substitue or supplement the listening experience. The same, I fear, goes for a descriptive approach to introducing this record. Lopez has combined various site-specific, wind-related field recordings into a single, 57-minute piece. Other than choosing the right places and the equipment to record them with, the entire material has remained unprocessed with only sequencing, seaguing and the length of each segment falling into the responsability of the composer. These parameters are, however, enough to unfold an overwhelming presence.

As erruptive as a classical symphony
Lopez’ recordings range from gail storms to howling and hollering winds, from scaringly erruptive thrusts to meditative states of rest, from the harsh and loud opening to the gradually dying-down whisper of the finale. It is the dramaturgical and utterly personal presence which he establishes over the course of the piece, combined with the immediacy of his field tracks, which shake the listener up like a classical symphony.

The symphony is not a bad metaphor in this respect, because it, too, has the potential to transcendend the plentiful concrete associations evoked by the orchestra. “Wind [Patagonia]” conjures up images of Haiku-like precision and intensity, rising from the inside of these sounds in moments of absolute clarity. Asking where they came from would only lead to their destruction.

All of this is nothing but a faint representation of what really happens here. At times, the album really comes close to attaining the status of pure sound, and when it does, the listener suddenly finds himself alone with nothing to fall back to but himself. A lot of questions are raised in this context, but their discussion is barely a public one. “My recommendation”, Francisco Lopez says, “is – having knowledge of the existence of referential levels – to keep them closed.” He’s right. It’s better that way.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Francisco Lopez
Homepage: And/Oar Records

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