More Than Rain

Got a couple of related rainforest field recording albums from Francisco López. This seems to be an area of sound-art he is truly occupying and making into his own thing, through extensive travel and research, knowledge of the global environment, but also through careful consideration about the presentation of the content, and even through some degree of philosophising. The first item here is Hyper-Rainforest (The Epoché Collection – Vol. 1), and it was assembled from multiple recordings made in multiple locations around the world, from South America to Japan…anywhere there’s a rainforest, López will have been there and captured sounds. Matter of fact the recordings on this disc alone took him 20 years of work, in elapsed time. The playback for this composition (it was created in 2011) was an ambitious, grand-scale sound installation which took place at the EMPAC Concert Hall in New York State. When I tell you that 82 speakers were required for the performance, it may convey something of the surround-sound, immersive nature of the experience. I sometimes think that modern composers have a lot to thank Stockhausen for; without “sound projection” multi-speaker acousmatic compositions such as Hymnen, we wouldn’t even have dedicated spaces like EMPAC to do it. Purchasing this CD may not transform your stereo into an 82-speaker concert hall, but it is still glorious to listen to, an incredibly vivid portrait of raw, seething life; plenty of glorious birdsong, insects, and frogs.


The back cover prints a quote from the writings of Jean Baudrillard, which is asking something about the “disappearance” of reality; it seems that whenever he looks at an image of anything, he’s aware that the reality of that image has disappeared. This is where the philosophising comes in. Haven’t we heard this idea before? Yes, the exact same questions about “what is real, anyway” where propounded on a 2012 release, Untitled #284 (CRÓNICA 066-2012). I like a man to hold fast to his beliefs and convictions. Natch, the idea about “disappearing worlds” is doubly poignant when we’re considering the fate of the rainforests, where the thing that’s in danger of disappearing is the very environment itself; the great globe is at stake. Said philosophising carries over into Yanayacu (The Epoché Collection – Vol. 2), which prints a quote from Jacques Rancière on its back cover, an extract from a treatise called The Politics of Aesthetics. It’s something about blurring the dividing lines between “fact” and “fiction”. Jacques Rancière comes to us from a background in structuralism and Marxism, and it’s only fairly recently that his thinkings have been picked up by the world of fine arts, which might be how López found a way in. The Yanayacu recording differes slightly from Hyper-Rainforest, in that it was all recorded in one year rather than 20, and comprises aural views of a single rainforest, a reserve in the Peruvian Amazon. While it’s still totally environmental, it’s also slightly less “hyper” than its brother; it’s not quite as full-on immersive, and indeed for most of its duration it projects a rather sad and lonely view of am occluded forest canopy where the wildlife utters sad and mournful cries. Both of these records sent to us personally by López from his address in The Hague, and arrived 06 May 2014.