As a complement to 2014's Francisco Lopez curated audio-MAD, this is another work, compiling artists from his current home in the Netherlands (both permanent residents and those who were just spending time in the city) with the intent of giving lesser-known electronic artists a wider amount of exposure. However, for such a minimalist composer, Lopez has had a maximalist streak as far as presenting material as of late. The aforementioned audio-MAD (which compiled material from artists residing in Madrid) was a two data DVD compilation of 100 artists, and 12 hours of uncompressed audio. audio-DH (for Den Haag/The Hague) goes even further: issued on a custom USB card and is compilation of 190 artists and over 16 hours of audio. So a quick listen it is not, but it is a rich and unique compilation of many artists I had not been familiar with in the past, but now am most definitely interested in examining more closely.
The largest proportion of these compositions (largely around five minutes in duration) is unsurprisingly focused on abstract and experimental electronic sounds. Something like Nicky Assmann and Joris Strijbos' "Echo's Under Sunset" is a clear example of this sort of thing. A pastiche of subtle electronics, the two composers emphasize the lower end frequencies of the spectrum to generate a sinister sounding piece of dungeon ambience. Ana Morán’s "One" comes from a similar sonic place: a combination of shimmering tones and rumbling electronics that is forceful, but not overbearing, and while a sparse mix overall, the work evolves and varies greatly.
Other artists focus on using electronics to create more organic sounding compositions. Ezequiel Menalled's unfortunately titled "Sonic Contribution Audio DH" does an excellent job of crafting natural sounding crunches and creaking textures that, while not groundbreaking, are an exceptional example of the style. Sara Pinheiro's "Elephant Whispers" has some similar sensibilities, giving a great bit of crackling space enshrouded in a nice fuzzy distortion. There is also a unique depth to the crispy, open spaces of Tom Tlalim's "Curtain Master" that results in a specifically outstanding work.
In any compilation of these sorts of artists, there is always some more aggressive, abrasive works to be found, and this is no exception. "Cables from Hell", courtesy of Lucho Pelucho, is a mass of harsh, aggressive loops and crashing, banging chaos that could potentially be a lost Merzbow work from the mid 1990s. The brief contribution from Sohrab Motabar, "A Miniature for The Hague" is an erratic outburst of ugly electronics that stands out as appropriately uncomfortable. Francisco Lopez contributes a piece himself, "Untitled #340" that, while not overtly noisy, is a mass of uncomfortably low frequencies, resulting in more of a physical experience of sound pressure pressure than a listening experience.
A few contributions skirt the line between noise and music quite effectively as well. Center no Distractor (Stephanie Pan and Stelios Manousakis)'s piece for taiko drum and electronics, "That Which Melts is Exaggerating" is a dense, pummeling pastiche of rhythm that is reminiscent of late 1970s/early 1980s industrial projects. Cocopino's "Niks Te Zeggen" is all echoing synth pulses and a cheap drum machine that, with the addition of spoken word vocals, has a unique lounge/electro sound to it. "DDR", courtesy of Grand Mal has a vaguely melodic and rhythmic sensibility to it, even though on the surface it is abstract sounding. Jeff Carey's "20160411.1101_16bit" drifts more into chaos, but in the form of an erratic, deconstructed form of electronic music.
Much like the audio-MAD compilation, this set also features additional "recombinant" performances courtesy of the HARING (Humanless Audio Recombinator for Infinite Novelty Generation) software, which is an additional suite of three works just short of an hour each. Not just a bionic DJ mix of the material, the software instead analyzes, compiles, and rebuilds a composition based upon the initial building blocks. While I feel the original compositions feel more conceptually strong and focused comparison, it still is a nice and unique edition to an already expansive compilation.
Given the length and depth of this project, it is not something that is easily taken in all at once. I personally chose to dive in and out of the material over a period of time, picking random songs each time and listening to them individually. With that approach, audio-DH is not nearly imposing and is instead a wonderfully deep well of music that I was able to come back to multiple times and find new and captivating works to enjoy at each and every visit.
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