07 septiembre, 2007

Review at Heathen Harvest

Artist: Rafael Flores
Title: Nubes, Cometas, Rumores Y Orugas
Label: Monochrome Vision


01 Minoo 1
02 Oidoor 1
03 Sanzoot
04 Sanzooot
05 Boucher 2
06 Para
07 7 Minutillos
08 Antinoe 1994
09 Mil Anos Antes de Vandervilt
10 Luders

Maybe a bit late but never too little. Rafael Flores has been doing his thing since 1981 and this compendium of works from 1994-2004 was intended as a silver anniversary of sorts. He certainly deserves to have his work issued for a wider audience as he's worked tirelessly over the years under his own name, as Commando Bruno, and a damn impressive video artist. I remember him from the 80s during the heyday of cassette networking, mail art and his releases on labels such as Tonspur, Esplendor Geometrico's imprint and the inevitable Zan Hoffman mix and mash. The pre-digital good old days.

This collection focuses on his predilection for field recordings and their subsequent treatment and juxtapositioning with other sounds. While Rafael is a serious artist, he's not so austere as to exclude a sense of humor and playfulness in his compositions, not to mention a nod toward the surrealists. 'Clouds, Comets, Rumors and Worms' ain't just noise y'all. Senor Flores knows what he's doing and has as keen an ear as anyone.

The disc kicks off with a thick wash of sound as if your head were trapped inside a gentle wash cycle, while your body experiences catatonia. Then things get sparse and metallic; sparks fly into and out of space and rub against an amplified cable that connects the earth-bound with some other life-form. It's a congenial affair : any ensuing confrontation is of the friendly sort. At least until 'Sanzoot' hits the speakers. A wall of sound is constructed, not of noise but of sonic minutiae including actual identifiable pitches (gasp). From here we get catapulted back into the laundry room to deal with some clever loop work until someone decides to use washing machine's body as a drum. This is a particularly wonderful passage with a bit of an industrial aesthetic; a stellar marriage of timbre and rhythm. 'Para' and '7 Minutillos' bring things down a notch as they grow from some environmental rustling into a digitally-damaged drone that sounds like a sanded cymbal stuck somewhere between Jupiter and Saturn. From here it's like flipping an LP over, but the grooves are filled with short-wave transmissions that sound downright hostile. This piece from 1994 is an uncompromising bit of white noise versus the world, but has a very musical dynamic curve. It segues nicely into some processed analogue synth work from 1997 which is a great track, but frankly sounds a little out of place in this collection. 'Luders' makes for a killer concluding five minutes. It sounds like an old dial-up modem has been doused with gasoline and set abalze. A lovely musical buzzing that I wish I could insert at will during unwanted phone calls.

Rafael's work definitely merits notice. Hopefully this CD release will help him reach a wider audience. I can't stress enough, however, that it's his current work that really demands attention. Get in touch with him for some the finest experimental electronic music around. He's a friendly fellow...tell him I sent you.

MTJ for Heathen Harvest