I’m Your Toy

Francisco Meirino_TAOEFN_Front

Francisco Meirino
The Aesthetics Of Everything For Nothing
GERMANY 1000füssler 026 3”CD (2014)

Like a forager for wild mushrooms, Francisco Meirino searches for, and harvests, interesting sounds from children’s toys. Whether the toys in question belong to his own children is not clear. I would imagine the kids would have been quite grumpy without them during the period when these recordings took place. Over the years, in an idle moment round at a friend’s house who has kids, or more recently surrounded by my own children’s rapidly expanding collection of plastic shit, I have often played absent-mindedly with a musical toy to see whether it has the potential to produce an interesting non-intentioned noise. I have found that I can get a reasonable if repetitive lo-fi House track out of a spiral sheep toy round at my in-laws’.

But enough of my nonsense – it is worth me reproducing the liner notes for this single seventeen minute piece just so you’re in no confusion as to Fransisco Meirinho’s intentions here: “The piece explores the sonic possibilities and audio-aesthetics of toddlers’ toys. By using binaural microphones, sharp editing and some pitch and resonance treatments, I was able to record and use all the rattle elements, the small motors and tiny bells that are hidden inside those toys.”

What he means by “resonant treatments” I think has resulted in some sounds being laced with a very noticeable bass thump, even with my hi-fi’s bass control at nominal position it was very noticeable and I found I preferred to roll off the bass a little to stop this effect becoming distracting.

Children are natural destroyers of things and Meirinho takes his cues from their inquisitive natures and their interactions with their toys as instruments of learning about the world around them. On the sleeve, label head Gregory Büttner’s comment “it’s quite an instrument” is an understatement; an instrument, or instruments, which, in Meirino’s hands, transcends its simple designs. Some very abrupt dynamic shifts results in a rich mix of the varied sonic material. There are some pleasing surprises dotted here and there; a loud pop and a what sounds like a weird, detourned GRM /STEIM-style hit around 5:40; an imaginary broken roulette wheel getting closer and closer around 8:30; and a colossal amplitude boost at 12:00 that sounds like The End Of The (Girl’s) World.

All source devices are presumably processed with high quality studio apparatus; the results being great detail and fidelity with a robust bass-end you would never normally associate with the sounds of kids toys. None of this stuff actually sounds much like the kind of toys I’m familiar with; in fact I wonder if Meirino hadn’t drawn attention to it I probably wouldn’t have made the connection. I assumed that was his intention all along, although ultimately, he chooses to give the game away: The Aesthetics Of Everything For Nothing ends with the clear, unprocessed chime of a baby’s wind up.

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