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Evol - Magia Potagia

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Artist: Evol

Album: Magia Potagia

Label: Mego

Review date: Jun. 15, 2005

The chaos theory espoused by Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park was the introduction for many moviegoers to the ideas pioneered by Edward Lorenz and numerous subsequent scientists. Chaos theory involves the search for patterns and systems within seemingly random collections of data, and has become a useful tool in numerous sectors of the scientific community. More surprisingly, it has also found a place in the world of art. Evol, the Spanish sound duo of Roc Jiménez de Cisneros and Anna Ramos, have utilized fractal-based, algorithmic composition to create digital streams of manic gibberish. On Magia Potagia, the group’s most recent release, Evol negotiates the most spastic realms of controlled chaos while also taking their first steps toward a decidedly more uniform, if still random, environment.

“Punani Potagia,” like the other pieces of Evol’s most fragmented period, was composed using computer-generated algorithms, with very little in the way of editing or manipulation. It’s a hectic ride, almost 30 minutes of ostensibly haphazard sounds, breakneck transitions and continually perplexing evolutions. Conceptually, the method to the "Punani"'s madness is impressive on a theoretical scale, but it does little to help the listener find footholds. It’s also hard to dismiss it as difficult for difficulty’s sake, as there’s something alienly arresting about the piece. Miniature events occur in series, swallowing one another and shrinking into a crowded nexus, and throughout the intense activity, a strain of curiosity and stubbornness wins out over boredom. The track doesn't qualify as easy listening, but it’s far more engrossing than might be expected.

Another aspect of Evol’s work has been the development of so-called “anti-climax” music, pieces which again utilize random generative techniques, but to different ends. “Pus pus pus” and “Walpurgis” are examples of a more minimalist aesthetic within Evol’s oeuvre; while ripe with activity, they maintain a similitude that’s in stark contrast with “Punani Potagia.” A consistency of theme keeps the music on a more conventionally palatable course; in “Pus pus pus” it’s the distorted buzz of a throng of winged insects, in “Walpurgis” the pleasantry of shiny tones mingle to the point of sparkling overlap. These two tracks, swarming and busy as they are, have a more obvious homogeny than their predecessor (though, outside of the context of Magia Potagia, they’d never be considered placid).

It’s sometimes rather impossible to hear, but there’s a concrete theoretical base to Evol’s chaos. The duo are as much mathematicians as they are musicians, and their results can be just as confusing as a chalkboard packed with advanced calculus. But, just like advanced levels of arithmetic, it starts with basic math, and as the seconds add up, Magia Potagia just may begin to make sense.

By Adam Strohm

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