FRANCISCO LOPEZ - AMAROK - Glacial Movements Records - 2010

First Review

For those yet to discover Francisco Lopez's vast discography, Amarok represents a brilliant way in. While not necessarily any more or any less accessible than material you'll hear elsewhere in his catalogue, there are ties between this mammoth hour-long piece and the language of dark-ambient music. You'll have to crank the volume a little bit to appreciate the scale and dynamic range employed here, but once you've acclimatised the Spanish composer soon immerses you in an icy drone-grotto, booming with low end presence and ground-melting rumbles while a biting arctic wind circulates. The piece's name, Amarok, is derived from a giant wolf in Inuit mythology. Aptly, at one stage you hear a snarling, heavy breathing rise up from the backdrop, sounding like a field recording of some terrifying cave beast, which by Lopez's very studious and level-headed standards almost comes across as a bit campy, but in this context such noises fit in with the bleak polar atmospherics of the piece. In addition to Lopez regulars, fans of Thomas Koner and Deathprod would do well to ckeck this out. Highly recommended.


Second Review

Un fade in di un minuto e mezzo, un drone impercettibile, insinuante, che nel suo sviluppo gonfia l’ambiente di vibrazioni ultrabasse. Cosě inizia il nuovo lavoro per la label radicale romana Glacial Movements del compositore spagnolo Francisco López (1964), maestro dell’isolazionismo, e di una certa elettronica ai confini con le sperimentazioni sul silenzio e l’elettroacustica, uno dei principali esponenti della sound art. Richiesto di un esercizio di stile sul tema dei ghiacci - la trama di ogni disco della Glacial Movements (che dopo avere pubblicato Mick Harris e i suoi Lull si appresta a fare uscire un nuovo lavoro di Thomas Köner) - López sceglie la quiete spettrale delle profonditŕ polari, scandagli remoti, droni fantasma, o forse il respiro cupo, minaccioso e circolare dell’Amarok, il lupo gigante della tradizione inuit. Un esempio adamantino di quella che lo stesso López ha definito “absolute concrete music”, un eccezionale lavoro di manipolazione minimale e intransigente su suoni ambientali e field recordings. Per fan di: Pierre Schaefer, Lull, Aidan Baker


Third Review

Lopez’ music has a way of getting under my skin, in the same way the faint whine from fluorescent lights and computer screens in an office or the background hum of refrigerators and appliances at home do. While listening to Amarok it becomes part of the environment and the mind filters out its steady subliminal assault. At times I almost forgot I had an album playing, but then the pressure either built up with noise reasserting itself, or it halted abruptly at which times I felt an immediate sense of ease and relaxation. These moments don’t last though and the underlying anxiety (both frigid and animalistic) inevitably returns. Although one continuous work, there are clear movements or sections within Amarok. The first is like a slow wind that gradually builds up into a gale of near white noise with a driving pulse of low-end macerating beneath. The storm of sounds disperses abruptly before descending back into an icy oblivion where it meanders around for a while longer.

For me, the high point of the 64 minute soundscape comes early on, in what I hear as a second movement to the work, starting around the 16 minute mark. It also places the recording in the context of its given name: Amarok is a monstrous wolf in Inuit mythology that tracks down and devours anyone who is foolish enough to hunt alone at night. I can hear the bestial snarls of this creature—compoundeded from what manner of source material I know not—as it tramples through snowy arctic wastes. At first it sounds like chains being drug across the ice, or the heavy chug of an ocean liner. Whatever the original field recordings were of, they quickly transform into vaporous snarls. The bestial growls of terror become slightly more defined while leaving plenty of room for my imagination to fill in the gaps.

The long remainder of the album is not as blatantly horrific though it is unsettling. Recorded between 2007-2009 and evocative of desolate isolation, Lopez claims it is the “spookiest work I’ve ever done.” It is easy to agree with him on this point, based on what else I’ve heard from this extremely prolific sound artist. He is clearly a master at creating soundtracks for inner cinema. Approaching the work as if I was at one of his concerts, blindfolded, I am able to pay proper attention to the minutiae of sound. As a cunning craftsman he is able to shape it to precise effect.


Fourth Review

Над материалом для итальянского лейбла «Glacial Movements Records» Франциско Лопез работал без малого два года, собирая и обрабатывая разнообразные звуки на своей мобильной студии, с которой он путешествует по миру. Показательно, что, несмотря на «северную» концепцию альбома, испанец предпочел творить в довольно жарких городах мира, таких, как Тель-Авив и Мадрид, с периодическими заездами в Ригу, Амстердам, Белград и другие европейские столицы. «Амарок» несет в себе все характерные (нравится вам это или нет) приемы, которыми Лопез давно прославился, и которым особенно не спешит изменять, успешно манипулируя статичным гулом, смешивая многократно переработанные звуки и заполняя ими пространство между продолжительными паузами тишины. Из этой тишины альбом рождается, в нее все звуки в конце концов и уходят – а между ними испанец медленно расстилает по бескрайней территории снежных полей однотонные гудения и пульсации, которые улавливаешь не столько при помощи слуха, сколько ощущаешь всем телом  легкое давление. Первую часть диска можно описать заезженным словом «вечерело» - а когда тьма сгустится до непроницаемой завесы, на снегу появиться отпечатки лап огромного волка Амарока, пришедшего прямо из легенд эскимосов, и рыскающего в поисках тех охотников, которые осмелится выйти на свой промысел ночью. Эта часть альбома, пожалуй, самая эффектная – гул, хриплое дыхание, утробный рев, хруст льда и прочие спецэффекты для легкой паники и мурашек. Лопез намеренно старается напугать, и у него это превосходно получается, но, рано или поздно день сменит ночь, волк уйдет в свою ледяную пещеру голодным, а пронизывающий ветер закрутит метель из острых и звенящих кристалликов льда, по крайней мере, именно так можно интерпретировать те звуки, которые сопроводят слушателя к финалу композиции. Довольно необычный для лейбла релиз, который вполне способен доставить приятные минуты поклонникам испанского экспериментатора и любителям «ледяного» и нестандартного эмбиента, а также сопутствующих жанров. 


Fifth Review

ROCK A ROLLA issue 25

Sixth Review

Francisco López is one of the most prolific sound artists active today. Since his earliest releases, more than twenty years ago, he has released well over a hundred albums and has rejuvenated musique concrčte through extensive use of field recordings and other types of found sounds. I wrote about Wind [Patagonia], one of his overt field recording albums, here a while back. For as many López works as have a recognizable and sometimes even fully credited provenance, there are albums where he provides no clue whatsoever on the sounds' origins, in notes or in the works themselves. In addition, many of his pieces are untitled and packaged in the most minimal way possible — clear jewel cases, plain white cardboard — obscuring any real-world referents as much as possible in packaging as with sound sources.

The line between abstract sound object and discernable documentary is continuous, and one of López's first releases in 2010, one of his most evocative sound works to date, takes an oblique tangent to both paths. Released on the isolationist label Glacial Movements, Amarok participates in similar visual imagery as the rest of the label, with the beautiful abstract Bjarne Riesto photograph Flight gracing the cover. There's also a suggestive Inuit connection with the album's name, Amarok being a gigantic wolf in Inuit mythology. López provides no additional clues, no indication of his sound sources in the rather sparse notes, and no obvious sonic referents in the music. With a single track over an hour long, Amarok has a narrative quality that is unusual in López's longer work.

Amarok is dominated by three loud, complex sections that are separated by interludes with varying degrees of tranquility. The first mountain is exactly the sort of great cavernous crescendo I have come to expect from López. Periodic subsonic booms and percussive noise bursts introduce an ominous, murky tension soon after the beginning. A second long section builds further, with breathing sounds and a low rattle suggesting the titular giant wolf growling deep from the back of his throat. While López's trademark resonances fill the background, muffled voices and watery gurgling drift into a soft hum like the arctic wind. There's movement even here, oscillations in space, volume and timbre becoming very quiet, audible only on headphones, and eventually, not even there. The last of the three loud sections starts with an accretion of overtone drones, with circling winds, a deep tumbling, and noises that conjure images of ghost sailors on phantom ships sometimes audible through the fog. This very complex and glorious set of sounds launches into a final quiet drone section.

Anyone with even a passing interest in contemporary drone will have heard some of López's music. His pieces overtly based on field recordings seem to keep their popularity, perhaps because of the high level of activity inside the sounds or the inevitable challenge of picking out small details for identification games. He's also created unsourcable works, nearly featureless expanses constructed from white and pink noise generators sensitively filtered. characterized by the juxtaposition of extended monolithic sound blocks, without any obvious connection between them. Amarok is neither of these. With complex, thick sound masses that draw us to López in the first place, it also has substantial continuity and development, unified perhaps with some of the same sound objects used in the different sections. It has the kind of organic development that I hear in López' naturalist works, sonic fields alive with possibilities. And it has a balance between onslaught and silence that's essential in a long form, all of which make Amarok one of López's most significant works to date.


Seventh Review

On Amarok sound sculptor Francisco López softens a savage terrain of whirring buzz like a brewing storm, then cuts suddenly, short and flat, to cool drone breezes. This lengthy hour plus work captures the sense of territorial distances, something akin to open torch flames and the echo of the outdoors. Like few of his recent releases López has treated his sources to a lush full course of thin layered varying depths of field. One can lavish in the work almost as if it were photographic, depicting a cryptic background of nerve-ending like fleeting activity while a curvy, hushness dances at close range. The charge of a sifting blur bleeds through a majority of the dark center here before a brisk release comes in the final dozen minutes. In its dramatic finality, Amarok poses a detached embrace of sorts, much like López’s live concert work. The journey ends as the cycle began in bare, slow silence.


Eight Review

 A year ago, Francisco López himself said that “Amarok is probably one of the more isolationist and spookiest works I've ever done,” and indeed it is. In fact, one strains to hear any sound whatsoever during the single-movement work's opening thirty seconds, and when the first faint wisps appear, they do so ever-so-gradually with soft, muffled pounds exhaling against an even softer, high-pitched drone. Needless to say, López's quintessential ‘headphones' listen demands close listening in order to appreciate its nuances and subtleties. Two years of work went into creating the sixty-four-minute soundscape, with the Spanish producer using processed field recordings to simulate the barren, frozen plains of the Arctic.

Starting off gently, gusts of wind slowly build in intensity until they become turbulent. That ferocity is tempered when the piece abruptly plummets back to a microsound pitch, enabling it to resume its ascent again, this time augmented by what sounds like wheezing and panting (the word Amarok, incidentally, refers to a gigantic wolf in Inuit mythology). The sound mass turns blurry, and the hallucinatory episode that follows suggests someone wandering disorientedly amidst the blizzard and imagining sounds of howling wolves and industrial machinery in the distance. Just as weather patterns can be unpredictable, so too does Amorak advance and retreat dramatically. Thirty-eight minutes in, it vanishes into silence, with only micro-sound noise hinting it's still alive, and then reawakens a minute later with glacial rumble that eventually grows into seething, violent convulsions of industrial howl before the slow and inevitable retreat into silence. Despite the fact that López is one of the most ridiculously prolific artists in the experimental music field (this is the third textura issue in a row where a review of a new release by him has appeared, for example), Amarok, a natural addition to the Glacial Movements discography, distinguishes itself from other López recordings by being isolationist, long-form, and by adhering so faithfully to the album concept.


Nineth Review


Tenth Review

"The spookiest work I've ever done," states Francisco Lopez. His work very rarely embodies much in the way of emotional resonance, instead there's more often than not a manipulation of field recordings into stoic monuments of grey drone reflecting the physicality of sound. If there is a 'coldness' to his work, it's usually by way of his rather dry, often disembodied aesthetics which draw heavily from the conceptual models of musique concrete and acousmatic musics. So, it's quite unusual for Lopez to arrive (intentionally or otherwise) at this bleak recording on this isolationist label with this title (Amarok is the Inuit name of a monstrous wolf who destroys anyone foolish enough to hunt alone at night). The album is a single 64 minute piece, that like many a Lopez production begins in near silence for about two minutes; but slowly the first of three major movements begins through a slow acceleration of low-end rumblings that coalesce into an aerated growling that builds out of wind-whipped drones only to fade to black after a rather tense 18 minutes or so. The rest of the album is much quieter affair with the clatter of ice, metal, and distant voice hung in an evocatively black space of Lustmord / Koner shadow. A Promethean plod of slowly churning rhythmic subsonics introduces the slow finale of Amarok with distant moans and howls that could be human or lupine defaced by frigid Arctic winds. It's certainly spooky, and fortunately, Lopez is deft enough of a composer to avoid some of the ham-fisted theatrics that tend in many of the lesser dark ambient / isolationist practitioners. Recommended, for sure!


Eleventh Review

Erneut erscheint eine Veröffentlichung vom Glacial Movements-Label in einem vorwiegend weißem Digipak. Diesmal ziert das Cover ein schemenhafter Schatten, der ebenso eine Ansammlung verschiedener Bischöfe als auch die Spur einer Wolfstatze sein könnte (okay, wer weiß, dass ein Amarok ein Wolf ist, denkt wohl eher nicht an Bischöfe). Der über eine Stunde lange einzige Track auf dieser CD nähert sich einmal mehr dem Extrem der Stille an. So beginnt „amarok“ zunächst einmal tonlos, es sei denn, meine Anlage war nicht in der Lage, irgendwelche speziellen Frequenzen wiederzugegeben, so dass erst nach ein paar Minuten ein ganz leiser, feiner Ton zu hören ist. Ja, auch hier wird durch die Thematik des Labels und das Artwork der Gedanke an leise Winde, die über Schneeflächen wehen, evoziert und nicht zuletzt durch den Verzicht auf Rhythmus wirken auch die Klangflächen geradezu endlos. Langsam entwickelt sich der von FRANCISCO LÓPEZ kreierte Sound, doch klingt „entwickelt“ zu zielgerichtet für die Komposition aus field recordings und vorwiegend sehr unaufdringlichen Tönen, die mehr musikalische, natürliche Landschaft ist als wirklich „zivilisierte“, gezähmte Musik. Wer auch nur eine ungefähre Ahnung von der auf diesem Label veröffentlichten Musik hat, wird wissen, dass „amarok“ alles andere als ein wildes Album im Sinne von laut oder aggressiv ist; doch gerade in der Stille und Weite, die den Hörer zur Konzentration zwingt, so er nicht abdriften und dieses Album als reines Hintergrund-Ambient-Geräusch wahrnehmen will, liegt eine gewisse Wildheit, eine Rohheit, die gerade nicht im Überschuss liegt, sondern in der Reduktion. Wie weit man die Annäherung an die Abwesenheit von Tönen und Struktur noch treiben kann, um weiterhin als Musik wahrgenommen zu werden, ist gewiss keine Frage, die man so schnell wird beantworten können. FRANCISCO LÓPEZ jedoch nimmt jene, die bereit sind, genau hinzuhören, mit auf eine Reise in die Nähe zur Stille, immer an deren Grenze entlang, durch die weißen Flächen etwas, das man vielleicht Minimal Cold Ambient nennen könnte. Womöglich kann man es auch gar nicht benennen, da man schweigen muss, um es hören zu können. (6,5/10) KMF


Twelve Review

GO MAGAZINE issue April 2010

Thirteen Review

Francisco López č da quasi tre lustri uno degli artisti piů in vista nell’ambito del cosiddetto field recording, ovvero l’opera di raccolta e montaggio di materiale sonoro prevalentemente naturalistico, o comunque esterno a un comune studio di registrazione. La sua creazione piů famosa, intitolata “La Selva”, č tuttora un rilevante punto di riferimento pragmatico per chi sia interessato a questa inusitata branca musicale. Il facere di López č, dunque, un lavoro essenzialmente a posteriori: una giustapposizione che avviene in seguito all’atto fisico di “cattura” del suono; un intervento sui dati che, a dispetto delle premesse, puň tramutarsi in autentica sperimentazione, potenzialmente piů estrema di quella  prettamente antropica.

E proprio in ciň sta il contenuto di “Amarok”, che risponde alla chiamata dell’etichetta romana Glacial Movements, promotrice di concept ambient-isolazionisti di carattere desertico. Un prodotto costato due anni di lavoro su materiale preregistrato, che travalica i limiti spazio-temporali, diventando un documentario sonoro di forte impatto emotivo. Oltre un'ora di crescenti fruscii eolici e vuotissimi silenzi, per proiettare fedelmente il paesaggio artico nella mente di chi ascolta. L’effetto sortito č quello di unhorror vacui orizzontale, un senso di desolazione post-apocalittica (questa volta per davvero) che rende totalmente inerti. Un progetto in linea teorica geniale, che si (s)materializza in uno strato di nulla dallo spessore cangiante – l’assenza di ostacoli riesce a dare tante forme al vento, a volte un tremito inudibile, a volte un ruggito funereo e profondissimo.

Non in molti apprezzeranno realmente quello che per disattenzione potrebbe sembrare poco piů di un cd vergine, riducendosi di conseguenza a un suono di superficie che attraversa l'orecchio e ne esce immutato. Ma facendo attenzione al contesto in cui ascoltare “Amarok”, eliminando ogni fonte di rumore attorno a noi, potremo scoprirne il glaciale fascino che avvolgerŕ tutto lo spazio ottenuto dal volume che gli consentiremo.
A López bisogna riconoscere anche in questo caso, oltre a un'indubitata sensibilitŕ ecologica, il merito di aver raggiunto quello che potrebbe definirsi il grado sottozero della musica ambientale. “Amarok” va dunque accettato per quello che č: una sperimentazione eccessiva in senso antitetico, un “oltre” che, giustamente, si affaccia sulla terra di nessuno, il vuoto totale.


Fourteen Review

At first there is nothing. But then subtly the sound builds, this amorphous drone that you can’t help but compare to an arctic wind. Within it elements come to the fore as the sound increases in volume, gradually bringing itself into earshot and revealing more of its character. As it comes closer the immensity of it becomes clear. It’s dark and capable of violence. It’s a roaring gale with a highly articulated bottom end rumble and suddenly it’s all around the listener, feeling the brunt of mother nature. It represents what’s so interesting about Spanish composer Francisco Lopez’s work. Whilst the field recordings are more than likely processed it doesn’t remove the soul of the sounds. You feel the violence, the organic nature, even as it ascends into white noise and abruptly cuts you understand innately that it’s something you can’t control.

Amarok is the kind of soundscape that would be at home in the sound design of French experimental filmmaker Phillipe Grandrieux’s (La Ve Nouvelle), a man who delights in dark ambient noise. Amarok is a single 64 minute piece and it’s designed to unsettle. The title comes from a giant wolf in inuit mythology and there’s a creeping intensity to the compositions he uses. It’s about building into an intensity of sound then allowing it to dissipate. Yet even within the comedown there’s no beauty. It’s still bleak, stark and dangerous. It’s also not afraid to dip down to near silence and then silence, before on some strange unseen, unheard cue it springs back into life. It could almost be considered as a series of suites, yet each one feels more chilling than the last. It’s hard to think of any sound art that’s felt this evil before, this violent, this carnal. The final third is out to tear your face off, searing noise that feels as transcendent as it does unemotional and powerful. It’s an experiential album where it matters little what ingredients Lopez uses (you can’t really tell anyway), or even how he puts them together, rather it’s about how it hits you and then what it does on your insides. - Bob Baker Fish


Fiftheen Review

Alessandro-Netherworld, il ragazzo dietro alla Glacial Movements, non ne sbaglia davvero una.
Dopo Mick Harris ha beccato anche Francisco López e lo ha convinto a donare una suo quadro sonoro per la sua galleria di paesaggi glaciali che sta mettendo su. Nell’ambito della musica sperimentale López č una figura ben conosciuta: č quello dei dischi senza copertina, dell’immersione totale nel suono, oltre che quello temutissimo da una parte del pubblico, che ha difficoltŕ ad accettare la sfida all’ascolto dei suoi album, quasi oggettivamente ostici. Qui abbiamo gli stessi movimenti profondi e sotterranei proprio di Lull/Mick Harris in Like A Slow River, che ad alti volumi sono semplicemente spaventosi per via di basse frequenze spaccapavimenti. Poi troviamo i vecchi trucchi del mestiere (vedi ad esempio anche Zbigniew Karkowski), come il gioco di alternare pieni e vuoti: dai primi si passa ai secondi, con il corpo che prima si sente contrastato da una forza devastante, poi di botto perde l’equilibrio (i recettori stato-cinetici stanno nell’orecchio, ci insegnano a scuola).
Un film di genere che vale il prezzo del biglietto.


Sixteen Review

According to the discography section on Francisco López site “Amarok” is his 63rd album to date! I knew that this legendary artist was prolific, but I couldn’t imagine that prolific. What can we say about the work of López and especially this new release? He has always been a particular and I dare to say quite unique in his genre, but it remains pretty hard to seize the genre that he is involved with. It’s a part of ambient, definitely experimental and often ending in pure soundscapes. “Amarok” is a single piece that will get the listener into attention for more than 64 minutes long. The beginning part is quite confusing as it takes several minutes before you can hear something. It sounds like Francisco López got lost in a white sonic mist, but progressively a kind of icy, nebulous and buzzing sound emerges at the surface. “Amorak” was meticulously built up evolving in a tormenting sonic exploration reaching a climax after 12 minutes. After the climax it all sounds like the track collapsed in an empty hole. That’s the point where “Amarok” gets again built up to come out of the depths. It slowly comes again to a kind of sonic orgasm. There’s a constant progression running throughout the composition, which is the only way to get it attractive for such a long time. Francisco López confirms once more his taste for singular ambient music.


Eighhteen Review

Le madrilčne Francisco López śuvre dans la musique expérimentale et acousmatique depuis le tout début des années 80. Ses disques, enregistrements de sources sonores diverses, ont pour caractéristique commune de devoir s’écouter trčs fort (et plutôt dans le noir) afin de pouvoir ętre appréciées ŕ leur juste valeur, tant le volume est subtilement bas. A premičre écoute d’apparence minimalistes, ces deux disques s’avčrent, aprčs une étude approfondie au casque, dotés d’une certaine profondeur cinématique. On pense d’ailleurs au remarquable travail sonore effectué sur les films de Grandrieux ou encore sur le dernier Gaspard Noé. Cependant, Amarok ne nous emmčne gučre ŕ Tokyo, mais semble plutôt nous plonger dans le grand nord, oů le vent souffle de maničre continue, dans un silence presque absolu, sans violence apparente mais avec une grande froideur qui s’intensifie inéluctablement, surtout ŕ la fin du disque, de maničre de plus en plus lugubre et angoissante. Brrr


Nineeteen Review

Since his earliest releases over 20 years ago, a good hundred others have flowed forth from sources bearing Francisco López's name - testament to the enduring force of his personal take on a field recording / found sound tradition he helped establish, just lately caught up on by a new wave of dark ambient drone-scapers, proving him a genuinely avant-garde spirit. Amarok is "probably one of the more isolationist and spookiest work I’ve ever done.” Elsewhere he has said it is "[...] sad to see art creating 'beautiful' things or making 'statements'". So this unbeautiful arctic expedition of atonal drones and snarling blasts conducted by this wheezing weaver of dream dystopia may not, as one might have thought, be an environmentalist polemic via allusion to the eponymous giant wolf of Inuit mythology. Whatever it be, this umpteenth album since creeping up from the mid-80s post-industrial underground would surely offer an ideal induction for the López novice, deterred by the forbidding sprawl of his discography; not for any greater approachability, rather for its classic incarnation of his caustic windy and withering post-musique concrčte, locus of enquiry between dark-ambient drone, microsound, lowercase, and soundscape vectors.
Amarok deploys processed field recordings to create a typically desolate and windblown Lopezian tract congruent with the Glacial Movements aesthetic. Within a single long-format track López bestrides a yawning abyss of whisper-scream like a colossus, evidenced by a pair of excerpts, the first from early on, the second from later in a work whose bleak and blasted tracts are relieved only by discomfiting passages of liminal brume and gloom. Expertly done head-ear food for dystopian total sonic immersives, who may find in it, statement denial notwithstanding, a shivering parable for our times.


Twenty Review

Extremely dilated drones, yet not too immaterial, redundant in their progressive slips of many sound layers. Microtones, someone calls them, but there's nothing minimalist in such a soundscape. Just consider the title, "Amarok", the name of a giant wolf in Inuit mythology, a people obviously accustomed to the extremes of an uninhabitable nature, where the sea and the abyss are clearly distinguishable, because of the ice pack or a wide stormy area. The experience is enough - then - to assess the meaning and content of every phenomenon, permeating concrete realities and animating forces. Francisco Lopez is very skilled at enlivening this "supernatural", evoking desolate isolationism, ideally forcing frequencies towards their implosion, redefining the overall structure in a sort of immanent arctic wind and using volume increments, voids and calibrated disconnections. White noise is infrequently present and the apparently constant amplitude of sounds determines an additional theoretical idealization, though the work remains very exciting and dense. Aurelio Cianciotta


Twenty-one Review

Rating : 7.5 - Un nome (Amarok) e una sorta di impronta che campeggia sullo sfondo bianco della copertina: cosě inizia la settima produzione della gelida etichetta italiana Glacial Movements, che affida il lavoro all'iberico Francisco López, prolifico e affermato assemblatore di suoni e rumori evocativi. In una lunga traccia di 64 minuti viene ricreato l'ecosistema dell'Amarok, il lupo gigante della mitologia Inuit, punto di partenza per quello che l'autore ha definito il suo disco piů sinistro. L'atmosfera prende corpo con un drone in crescendo, intervallato da pause e silenzi che danno al pezzo una struttura ondulatoria: l'obiettivo (riuscito) č di ricostruire le gelide folate di vento che spazzano i ghiacci perenni, effetto progressivamente amplificato con lo scorrere del tempo, fino a generare un'aura di mistero tra la bufera, laddove sembrano far capolino i respiri e i lontani ululati della leggendaria bestia. La calma cupa e cristallina di altri lavori licenziati dalla Glacial Movements lascia in questa occasione il posto a orrorifiche presenze nascoste tra la tempesta: se infatti le atmosfere non mancano soprattutto nella prima parte, sono poi le immagini inquietanti a prendere il sopravvento per mezzo di suoni che mirano a descrivere piů la paura che i piatti paesaggi nordici. López lavora su field recordings aggiustate e sovrapposte in tonalitŕ diverse, passando agevolmente dal silenzio ad un'apocalisse bianca frutto dell'unione tra la natura polare e i timori generati dai suoi miti. Lavoro estramamente sottile in cui nulla viene lasciato al caso, incisivo ma non immediato, cinematografico e tutt'altro che grossolano. Per palati fini.


Twenty-two Review

Release of a new Francisco Lopez album is always an exciting event. One wonders what direction he will choose next. I'm happy to report that on "Amarok", he has chosen to stay more or less within the realms of what he was doing on many of his previous works. Starting the 64 minute piece off with nearly ten minutes of barely audible, glacial rumblings, suddenly he switches pace and amplifies the source sound. For the next few minutes, we get what can best be described as a freight train barrelling down a long tunnel. This stops very suddenly too. Over the course of the rest of the record, he alternates his sounds between those that are barely there [you really need to turn the volume gauge past ten to hear most of these bits], to those that pop out of nowhere and are rather vocal in their demure. My favourite moments are the arctic like connotations that Lopez draws up. Full of winds and what could pass for hailing snow in the tundra, they capture the soundtrack to a desolate, cold winter day out in the middle of Siberia. Snuggle up with a good pair of headphones and a warm blanket. "Amarok" is bound to take you places you've not been to before.


Twenty-three Review

Španěl Francisco López je asi nejproslulejším hudebníkem – lovcem zvuků současnosti. Jeho diskografie čítá více než stovku nosičů a jde v ní především o to, co má být slyšet. Připadá-li vám tohle tvrzení jako samozřejmost, uvědomte si, kolik pozornosti posluchačů si uzurpují nejrůznější výpravné obaly, pečlivě pěstovaná image, pouhé pojmenování skladeb či přítomnost na pódiu. López, který po svém publiku chce, aby poslouchalo, svá díla většinou nepojmenovává, balí je obvykle do černých hávů a při koncertech divákům zavazuje oči (aby nebyli diváky ale pokud možno jen a jen posluchači) a nehraje na pódiu, ale zezadu, od zvukařského mixpultu.Nové album Amarok (až tento text vyjde, novinkou už zcela určitě nebude) tato pravidla, jak je vidět, porušuje; má obal s obrázkem, i když abstraktním, a název. Zdá se, že López postupem času ztrácí svou zarytou přísnost. Hudba-zvuk hodinové skladby ale do žádných bezpečnějších pozic neustupuje: výchozí materiál byl nahrán v několika evropských městech a v Tel Avivu, kdybychom se to ale nedočetli na obalu, nic by tomu nenapovídalo. López považující sám sebe za dědice konkrétní hudby je v Amaroku zcela abstraktní. Žádné zvukové krajinky či barvité pohlednice, ale pozvolna, o to působivěji plynoucí masa hlubokého zvuku odehrávající se po dlouhé minuty na samé hranici slyšitelnosti, což je oblast, již autor zkoumá obzvláště rád. Posluchač má tři možnosti, co si se znepokojivým téměř tichem počít. 1) Zesílit stereo na neobvyklou míru s rizikem, že mu náhlá změna hlasitosti vyrazí okenní tabulky z rámů – což se patrně nestane, Lópeze podobné „lekačky“ nijak neokouzlují. 2) Nasadit si uzavřená sluchátka a poslouchat dlouhé minuty úplného ticha či téměř úplného ticha. Věřte mi, je to neobvyklý pocit. 3) Otevřít proslulé „cageovské“ okno a považovat za součást skladby všechny zvuky a ruchy z okolí, které při poslechu zazní. Samotný López žádnou radu stran toho, která možnost má být považována za „správnou“, neposkytuje. V rozhovoru, který jsem s ním před několika lety vedl, mi na provokativně pitomou otázku jak by si představoval, aby posluchač přistupoval k jeho hudbě, odpověděl: „S radostí. Jako já.“
Amarok, další z řady kompaktů neúnavného muže s mikrofonem a biologa, který s oblibou natáčí nejen ve městech, ale i na těch nejexotičtějších lokalitách, udělá radost tomu, kdo při poslechu hudby nespěchá, obejde se bez jakýchkoli rytmicko-melodicko-harmonických struktur a – last but not least – ví, že poslouchat cokoliv z hučícího počítače či ušních špuntů přenosných chrchlátek je urážkou hudby.


Twenty-four Review

De Spaanse Meester van de valse stilte zoekt dit keer onverwacht kille oorden op. De gemanipuleerde veldopnames van Lopez werden immers besteld door een label dat een hele esthetiek heeft opgetrokken rond de klank van gure wind over bevroren vlaktes en tegen elkaar schurende ijsbergen. In deze setting plaatst Lopez de mythische (Inuit) wolf ‘Amarok’. Alle typische ingrediënten (nepstiltes, drones die net of net niet waarneembaar zijn met een menselijk oor) worden in één meditatie van vierenzestig minuten afgewisseld met enkele luidere fragmenten en uitbarstingen van ambient uit het diepvriesvak. Soms lijkt het zelfs alsof Lustmord opgesloten zit in een iglo. Deze afwisseling maakt de cd ‘Amarok’ bijzonder geschikt als startpunt om de immense discografie van Lopez verder uit te diepen


Twenty-five Review