Thursday, May 28, 2020
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Artist: Francisco López (@)
Title: The Epoché Collection vol. 1 & 2
Format: CD
Label: Nowhere Worldwide
Distributor: A Closer Listen
Rated: *****
I have very mixed feelings about these two releases. Here is why:
Francisco López's "Epoché Collection" is an ongoing series of untouched environmental field recordings from tropical forests all around the world.
Volume 1 ("Hyper-Rainforest") contains a continuous one hour long mix of recordings made between 1990 and 2010 in tropical, sub-tropical and cold rain forests in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Gambia, Japan, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, USA and Venezuela. These recordings also were the sonic part of a 2011 installation of 82 speakers at the EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center) in Troy, New York, where these sounds have been played back to an audience in the dark at the facility's large concert hall.
Volume 2 ("Yanayacu") contains unadulterated environmental sound matter from the Peruvian Amazon and is divided into 5 pieces totaling 51 minutes.
Both CDs are limited to 300 copies and their sonic imagery are as absolutely beautiful, soothing and relaxing as they come. I've listened to these CDs multiple times, at home and in planes, letting myself be transported to these remote locations and imagining the humid and lush vegetation surrounding me in this auditory voyage.
The reason I initially said that I had mixed feelings, which is also why I have given this 3.5 stars and not more, is that presenting non-transformed field recordings does not really require any particular artistry or skill, other than the skill of recording them properly and managing one's travel expenses to reach all these far away places. Of course I do appreciate the fact that Lopez has traveled far and wide to collect these sources and document them. Without him, there might be no such pristine recordings in the first place! But can one sound artist and composer really claim these as his own creations? Isn't it just the creation of nature that Lopez simply recorded? Isn't he just the recording engineer? The fact itself that he points out himself that these recordings are non-transformed, further validates my doubts about the artistic validity of such exploits. They certainly have historic and geographic validity, but their artistry is questionable in my opinion.
All that said I absolutely love the recordings and Lopez did a fantastic job capturing them and mixing them together on these CDs and I, for one, will continue listening to them over and over. Whether to waste mental energy over validity and purpose, I will leave up to the hopefully many other listener who will get to enjoy the sounds of these forests.