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Francisco Lopez & Lawrence English: Mysterious acronyms and a strong amusicality

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Francisco, you're back from your Amazon workshop. How did things go this year?
Francisco López: Amazing! This residency/workshop is an intense combination of filed work, studio work, discussions, creation and adventure in the rainforest. This year I had two groups of sound artists / composers, each one for two weeks with about ten people. We have a pretty intense schedule with work during the day and at night as well. The environment around Mamori Lake, where the residency/workshop takes place, is a beautiful tropical rainforest teeming with life. Frog choruses are particularly interesting and complex, and they typically become one of the goals of our field work at night, in all their different combinations and awesome complexity. Another typical challenge in this environment is to get a recording of the elusive howler monkeys. There is a myriad of other things happening there, of course, and I try to provide the opportunities for the participants to be able to hear and record as wide a variety of sound matter as possible. The focus of this project is creative and every participant creates his/her own piece by the end of it. I believe this is a particularly interesting situation in which a group of artists work with basically the same sound materials. This reveals in an unusual and straightforward way the creative skills of every participant.

Lawrence, "HB" differs quite strongly from your previous work for Baskaru and from a lot of its most recent releases. Why did you decide it would be a good home for the album?
Lawrence English: What I like about labels like Baskaru is the fact that they develop a catalogue that's based around the idea of exploration. If you listen back through each of the records they've released to this poing each one is a journey through a concept or idea - some aesthetic or conceptual framework which houses a considered exploration into an idea. For me, this is the kind of thing that makes labels exciting - the label head like a curator, offering intimate and curious listening experiences for the people who follow the label. It's a pleasure to have labels like Baskaru out there for me. It's also something I keep strongly infocus with my label room40.

What were the reasons behind selecting your pieces as a point of departure for the other?
Lawrence English: I don't see it so much as a departure as a refocussing. What struck me strongly about Francisco's work – in this piece as many of his others - was his ability to craft very powerful and dynamic shifts through his recordings. The details in his work are just so multi-layered and engaging that I find myself often lost in there. After we started to discuss the collaboration, it took me some time to find a situation that I could record that in some way meaningfully responded to what Francisco had created. I eventually found that situation, which involved a lot of sound activity at frequencies above and below Francisco's piece and I thought this created a nice correlation between the works.
Francisco López: The apparent simplicity of this field recording behind „untitled # 175“ is fascinating to me. The virtual space in it is rich and very clear. The dynamism of the few sonic elements is direct and unpredictable in a very special way. One of those precious instances of staright recorded reality standing completely on its own as something in between a "natural composition" and an endlessly flowing environment. Very strong in its amusicality.

In both of your reworkings, the original is still clearly discernible. Would it be correct to say, then, that your approach was rather one of selecting a different perspective on the same piece than transforming the material completely?
Francisco López: I don't see it that way. I wanted to extract the essence I found most interesting in the initial material. The degree of its transformation or of the change in perceptive sonority was less relevant than the draw of the new sound materials themselves generated from the mutation. A very common principle for me in the creative process: Follow the sounds, not the concepts.
Lawrence English: It's interesting there's a large amount of transformation there, but the composition itself leads you to find familiar sound marks or qualities in the piece. One of the main things I wanted to achieve through the reworking of Francisco's piece was another perspective on his subject matter - I wanted to try and find other ways of hearing the sound information he had gathered there. I think this proved to be quite successful - towards the end of the piece for example, I used a very simple pitchshifting to reveal this other elements and qualities of the material - suddenly the source recordings opened up an entirely different and alien character that was somehow still very faithful to the original piece. I think the question of transformation for me came into the transformation of focus within the piece - taking the listeners' ears to a variety of points that were accentuated from the original recording.

What are your thoughts about the contribution and reworking of your creative partner?
Lawrence English: To be honest I am ceaselessly impressed and amazed by Francisco. He's one of the finest sound artists I've had the pleasure to spend time with. His focus and dedication to his principle interests are really to be respected. In terms of the piece, I was actually quite surprised with what Francisco did with the material. What I realy liked about it was the fact I can't figure out how he made it - I'm not sure what processes took place and I find that very exciting!
Francisco López: I think Lawrence did a pretty good job in integrating his transformations and the final structure of the piece as an integral part of the whole, which is the idea of this release. I'm very happy with both his initial material and his fine understanding of how the different pieces on this album fit together. In my view, it is in fact the combination of the different pieces what creates that beautiful strangeness and strong simplicity of this work.

"HB" sounds like an incredibly and intruigingly coherent album. Any plans of continuing the co-operation in the future?
Francisco López: We both have plenty of other new projects in our hands, but of course future co-operation would be a pleasure. The results of this one are promising and fully satisfying for both of us.
Lawrence English: We just were together in Mamori for the sound residency there and that was the first chance we had to see each other for 5 years, so hopefully it won't be that long again before we meet.

Let's not spoil the fun and ask what the innitials "HB" stand for. But who came up with the title for the album?
Lawrence English: Actually the title came out of a number of emails back and forth between us, I'm fairly sure though that Francisco suggested this final reading of the idea... I guess now part of the fun is for listeners to think up their own reading of what HB might be extrapolated into....

„HB“ by Francisco López and Lawrence English has just been released on Baskaru.

Homepage: Lawrence English>
Homepage: Francisco López
Homepage: Baskaru Records


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