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Francisco Lopez / Andrey Kiritchenko - Mavje

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Artist: Francisco Lopez / Andrey Kiritchenko

Album: Mavje

Label: Nexsound

Review date: Nov. 30, 2005

In the disorienting opening sequence of his 2002 film Irrevérsible, director Gaspar Noé utilized a 28Hz tone in the soundtrack to further discomfort and unsettle the viewer. The low frequency sound, when pumped through a cinema sound system, was said to be the cause of numerous theatergoers’ early exit, sometimes affecting viewers to the point of physical sickness. It’s doubtful that the aims of Francisco Lopez and Andrey Kiritchenko are quite so extreme, but the deep rumbling of Mavje, heard in the right context, can certainly be a disconcerting listen.

Spaniard Francisco Lopez has long been renowned as an unrelenting sound artist, creator of black holes and deep ocean trenches. His Ukrainian counterpart on this disc, Andrey Kiritchenko, has gained global recognition through recording, performance and his curation of the Nexsound imprint. On Mavje, Lopez was provided with a collection of recordings made and processed by Kiritchenko, which he reworked into a single, longer piece. The resulting 51-minute track relies very little on singular sounds; it’s likely that most of Kiritchenko’s fingerprints have been obscured from the surface by Lopez’s creative processes. That’s not to say that Mavje is a one-sided collaboration, but it’s the second man to handle the sounds who seems to have had the more obvious influence in how they were molded.

The majority of the beginning of the album lies in the murky depths of the aural register, tempting the listener more and more towards an increase in volume that could disembowel even the hardiest speakers. But things don’t become any more pleasant as the volume rises, as Lopez giftedly crafts minimalist hypnotics that can be as damaging to delicate eardrums as they are enchanting. When Mavje opens wide and swallows all in its wake, the digestion of the listener’s mind can seem almost gentle, but the disc never loses its feeling of foreboding, and when the sound drops out for a few moments at the 40-minute mark, the silence is, to rehash a well-worn but equally appropriate cliché, deafening.

It would be an interesting experiment to turn the tables on Lopez and Kiritchenko, to have the latter rework the sounds of the former in a companion piece to Mavje. One might expect a slightly more disorderly affair, though it never seems safe to assume how one artist’s work might inspire the creation of another. In the case of Mavje, the pairing is a fruitful one, and to oversimplify the contributions of either musician would surely be presumptuous. Lopez’s handiwork may be the more obvious, but both men deserve credit for a disc that engages the ears like few others.

By Adam Strohm

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