karu:13 - Francisco López & Lawrence English - HB
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Musique Machine (BE) - April 2010
Text by Russell Cuzner

HB straddles the globe with two new works of sound art from Spain’s Francisco López and Australia’s Lawrence English, each providing both an original solo recording and a “mutation” of the other’s contribution. This illuminates hidden layers, giving us an insight into how they perceive the other’s work, both of which focus on environmental recordings with minimal editing and treatment.

Most impactful, partly because it comes first and serves to prime the listener for what follows, is López’ ‘Untitled #175’ originally recorded in Costa Rica in 2001 and edited and mastered three years’ later. Typically enigmatic, there is no further information provided about the recording which places the listener in a meadow buzzing with the activities of insects and birds. However, this is not your regular field recording: central to the piece is an omnipresent snoring or shuffling at the lower end that initially sets the brain into a frantic attempt to determine its source in an otherwise recognisable garden of sounds. It could be that somehow a microbic microphone was placed onto, say, a dragonfly as it surveys its natural habitat, letting the listener experience what vibrating wings sound like from the insect’s point of view. Or has a small contact mic been fixed into a particularly popular flower whose over-flowing pollen chamber attracts a queue of bees keen to carry it’s sperm to female plants? Whatever it is, the bombination never stops but is continuously fluctuating with a natural purpose, like the sniffing of a dog or foraging of an ant, zig-zagging the stereo path, always positioned in the foreground. And yet, once you stop trying to identify it you begin to assimilate the events as pure sound revealing the interplay of the natural rhythms of an environment untainted by man, the lead sound as a navigator of an abundant realm.

Lawrence English manipulates this remarkable journey in such a way as to retain many of its recognisable elements resulting in a repeat journey, but this time the experience feels opiated. The birds still twitter, the bees keep buzzing, but through English’s processing they have an alien, unnerving edge. A few minutes in and there’s a sudden blast of air like the spraying of a turbulent waterfall which is cut as quickly as it appeared to reveal an even woozier field inverting the dynamic range of López’ original. After a further segment that has a drowned feel as the air pressure in our ears is compacted camouflaging the insect life, we’re finally brought back into the open air, heralded by birdsong so heavily emphasised that it takes on a chill of Hitchcockian proportions.

For his original contribution, English’s ‘Wire Fence Upon Opening’ recorded on the far eastern edge of Australia in 2006, somehow has a much more urban feel compared to HB’s opener, despite it also seeming to be an unedited environmental recording that shares a backdrop of birdsong and a lack of clues as to its source. It’s centred around crispy, bristling movements like the fluttering activity in an aviary all lightly bathed in reverb. On HB’s final track, López amplifies this prickly ruffling and detunes it, bringing it even closer and, in doing so, creating the panic stricken heartbeat of an escape attempt. This intense chase ripping through dry grass stops suddenly as cleaner, animalistic movements in English’s recording are magnified along with a low end rumble of air that shudders and quakes.

Due to the nature of the work, it is essential that listening sessions are unecumbered by any other noise or other sensual stimulation that could interfere with its allure – much like López’ performances where blindfolds are handed out to the audience who sit with their backs to the performer. This unsociable concentration is an essential part of the process started by López and English through their turn-taking collaboration. Despite this indirect, unintegrated style of working and a focus on random events, the release is strongly coherent as a whole providing large doses of intrigue and wonder that is greatly rewarded through repeated listens. (5/5)

Sefronia (FR) - March 2010
Text by Hugo Catherine

Francisco Lopez et Lawrence English s'inspirent directement de la nature, piaillent joyeusement et grondent sourdement. "HB" est une expérimentation naturaliste à partir de sons d'oiseaux et d'averses. En dépit d'éléments sonores reconnaissables, les deux électroniciens créent un son aride. Si nous nous prenons à apprécier les gazouillis des oiseaux, à goûter le bourdonnement aléatoire des insectes, à suivre le rythme de la pluie tombante, notre pèlerinage, prétexte à la quête d'un son unique, est quelque peu exigeant.

L'expérimentation proposée se caractérise par un certain formalisme. La répétition n'est pas tant dans le contenu – les chants d'oiseaux ne dessinent-ils pas des figures rythmiques et mélodiques jamais parfaitement identiques ? – mais bien plus dans le format. La construction de l'album est plus méthodique que la première écoute peut le laisser entendre. Les motifs sonores durent, disparaissent puis réapparaissent. "HB" restitue un double travail assez conceptuel, à la limite de l'incommunicabilité.

Francisco Lopez et Lawrence English distillent leurs idées avec parcimonie. Ils privilégient l'effet de surprise à la surprise permanente. Ainsi, sur "Pattern Review by Motion", la pluie survient comme un coup de massue puis s'éteint d'un coup d'un seul. Puis un nouvel élémént fait brutalement surface : un cri d'oiseau dans la nuit. Nous passons brusquement de la jungle pluvieuse au sous-bois terrifiant. Sur la longueur de l'album, seuls deux ou trois événements perturbent ainsi la continuité du son de la nature. Ceux-ci font une peur bleue, celle des enfants dans la nuit noire. Une certaine tension s'installe entre ordre naturel, permanent et désordre passager mais violent. La frontière est poreuse entre bruit et silence, calme plat et agitation venteuse.

Le label Baskaru, toujours délicieux, s'aventure ici sur des terres bien expérimentales. "HB" est perturbant : il peut créer une sensation proche de l'ennui et requiert pourtant une attention de tous les instants. Le bruitisme naturaliste de Francisco Lopez et Lawrence English a le beau mérite de ne ressembler à aucun autre son croisé ces derniers temps. Il fait entrer dans nos intérieurs la musique de l'extérieur. Anodine et mystérieuse, cette musique, en somme déjà bien connue de tous, déroute avant tout. En embarquant un microphone sur un bourdon, nos deux créateurs sonores font résonner la nature sans artifice et sans clef de lecture.

Black (DE) - December 2009
Text by M.F.

Black, December 2009

The Sound Projector (UK) - November 2009
Text by Ed Pinsent

The Sound Projector, November 2009

M|I (PL) - November 2009
Text by DK

M|I, November 2009

Tiny Mix Tapes (US) - September 2009
Text by Chizzly St. Claw

When you think of field recordings and musique concrète, you might not think about pumping your system at full volume and rocking out. But the heavy buzz of insect wings on HB deserves a full-on bass amp -- your computer speakers won’t do these pieces justice. The wild shifting within this record is a discursive musical mind-fuck, and timid listeners not used to noise and the harsh nature of electronic music might not appreciate the temerity of Francisco López's and Lawrence English's distinct visions. But if you can get down, this is one for the true of heart.

Although it is perhaps a little romantic to think that this album could somehow be perpetrated on the uninitiated — on an unknowing audience ill-prepared for an auditory journey — it makes an apt introduction to artfully manipulated field recordings. Perhaps you might think that phraseology a little taut and overstated for an album that is, at its heart, a mutation of the sounds of nature. But then again, newbie listeners may never have been this close to nature’s potential as a vehicle for experimentation.

Francisco López, born in 1964 Spain, has been plying his trade as an avant-garde musician for almost 30 years now, releasing over 200 works of sound art. He specializes in installations and live performance, preferring darkness and blindfolded audience members to fully capture the intent of his sensory experience. Lawrence English, meanwhile, is an Australia-based musician, but in contrast to López, his background includes much more work as a curator. That is not to slight the abundance of recording and sound installation work that he has created, but rather to highlight his role as an organizer and behind-the-scenes figure.

The experiment here is two-fold: López’s "Untitled #175," an exploration of the sounds at Villablanca in San Ramon, Costa Rica; and English’s "Wire Fence Upon Opening," recorded at Samford Valley near Brisbane. The two then traded the pieces and mutated each other’s work into something new, leaving us with four tracks: López, English mutation, English, López mutation.

Enticing one to listen would involve invoking descriptors such as insectile, squirmy, creepy, churning, gut-wrenching, terrifying, startling, quiet, disturbing, bewildering, challenging, aggravated, lost, futuristic, unstable. To wit, it is an existential sensory tour-de-force. But I find it unnecessary to go into a detailed narrative about all the ins and outs of 50-plus minutes of material that hinges so heavily on experience. TMT is not about music description anyway, and I'm positive anyone who is going to take the time to find and listen to this album will be pleased and surprised by what they discover.

Truth be told, HB has already gone a long way towards reinvigorating my interest in the avant-garde, electronic, and experimental music scenes. López and English do a fantastic job of creating original music with an alien texture, making this more than just a collection of field recordings. The four tracks blend together in a way that belies the intent behind the mutation motif, demonstrating that these are two artists sheared from the same yard of fabric.

Stereo & Video + Radiodrone (RU) - September 2009
Text by Sergey Oreshkin

Stereo & Video, September 2009

Exclaim (CA) - July 2009
Text by Eric Hill

This collaboration between two looming figures in the world of experimental sound has both its predictable moments and surprises. The raised eyebrows may come for fans of Australian artist English (the Room40 label boss), whose recent output on Touch and 12k has dwelt more in the realm of melodic ambient and minimal electronic works. Here, his field recording, "Wire Fence Opening," is a distant observation of creaks and either crickets or birds (or both) that more closely resembles, well, Francisco Lopez. In fact, Lopez's source piece, "Untitled #175," is a doppelganger of English's but doubles the length, volume and kinetic energy. The second half of the experiment comes when each artist "remixes" the other. English's "Pattern Review By Motion" plays up the artificiality of the contextualization, eventually forcing the tape sound into an eruption of hiss and warble. For his part, Lopez searches through the spectrum until he isolates a gut rumbling frequency that's just tickled by the distant sounds of nature.

Adverse Effect (UK) - July 2009
Text by Richard Johnson

In a way, I suppose it was only a matter of time before these two artists amalgamated their respective interests in both field recordings and relationships between normally hidden sounds and their being taken to new levels of perception. Whilst, however, Australia's Lawrence English usually transforms his own interests in such soundworlds to heights often melodious or at least accessible, Spain's Lopez has long had a reputation for crafting pieces that one must strain their hearing as far as possible in order to derive anything from. On this album, each artist contributes a field recording piece and then adds an additional reworking of each other's piece whereby the source material is hammered into new forms that at once remain respectful of the originals and delve into more musique concrete realms. Birdsong, drifting hiss, chirrups, a buzzing fly, near-silent textures, occasional swells and various studio-concocted sighs and creaks all add up to four pieces that shake hands firmly together on the conceptual soundmap. Interesting to the usual point with such releases, of course, but lacking the necessary emotional attachment I personally crave.

Aufabwegen (DE) - July 2009
Text by Zipo

HB ist halb Split und halb Kollaboration. Ein Künstler stellt seine Arbeit vor und erwirtschaftet in einem zweiten Beitrag aus dem Stück des jeweils anderen einen eigenen neuen Track. Trotz, oder gerade wegen dieser Verfahrensweise klingt die CD relativ homogen. Beginnend mit López’ Subbass-getränkten statischen Flächen geht die Reise weitere über etwas durchlässiger glitchenden Ambient, ebenfalls synthetisch und relativ warm an Dynamik. Am spannendsten sind sicherlich die jeweiligen Bearbeitungen, bzw. Vorgaben, die Musik des anderen als Sourcing zu verwenden. Hier scheinen bei López z.B. konkrete Elemente auf, die English der Klanglava mit beimischt, während umgekehrt der spanische Tiefseeexperte das düstere Element im doch manchmal süßen Ambient des Lawrence English hervorkitzelt. HB bringt keine großen Überraschungen aber eine stimmige Gesamtatmosphäre.

Octopus (FR) - June 2009
Text by Jean-Claude Gevrey

Artiste pour le moins prolifique (220 compositions au compteur !), Francisco López ne compte plus les projets ni les collaborations. C'est donc presque immanquablement que surgit à présent cet album partagé avec l'étoile montante du soundscape climatique : Lawrence English. Une rencontre attendue, pour ne pas dire espérée, entre deux examinateurs attentifs des imperceptibles mouvements de la planète. L'interaction s'est faite à distance, via des échanges de matériel sonore. Chaque artiste a, de son côté, enregistré une pièce basée essentiellement sur des field recordings, puis l'a confiée à l'autre pour qu'il puisse y imprimer sa marque. C'est López qui ouvre le disque avec "Untitled #175", une pièce utilisant des prises de son réalisées au Costa Rica où les mouvements caressants du vent viennent occasionnellement vrombir au milieu d'une multitude ailée qui siffle, piaille, babille, trisse ou zinzinule dans les aigus. Cette source est ensuite largement filtrée par English qui en réduit la durée et le volume, conservant la place centrale de l'activité aviaire mais déformant les timbres et structurant l'ensemble en mouvements distincts ("Pattern Review By Motion"). L'homme de Brisbane est également responsable de la troisième plage, "Wire Fence Upon Opening", enregistrée dans la Samford Valley : beaucoup d'espace et un intense fourmillement animal (d'autres oiseaux, d'autres cris et sans doute quelques insectes rampants) auquel s'ajoute une dimension acoustique sableuse que l'on hésite à attribuer au sol australien ou aux traitements digitaux. L'espagnol exploite cet aspect sur "Untitled #204" avec un travail très croustillant, entretenant le feu sous des crépitations électroniques pour finalement plonger dans des profondeurs à la limite de l'audible. Un échange subtil et précis.

Go-Mag (ES) - June 2009
Text by Vidal Romero

Go-Mag, June 2009

The Vibes (IT) - June 2009
Text by Vito Camarretta

La nostra immaginazione ci spinge a pensare che in occasione della mietitura e della scelta della semina dei rispettivi orticelli, il blasonato manipolatore e scultore sonoro spagnolo Francisco López - a coloro che sono meno addentrati nella sperimentazione elettronica potrebbe non dir nulla, ma molti appassionati se lo sono ritrovati in almeno uno delle 180 (e passa) produzioni in cui si ritrova il suo nome, tra i quali spiccano le collaborazioni con stimati colleghi quali l'ucraino Andrey Kiritchenko e il geniale visual&sound artist americano Steve Roden... - e l'australiano (di Brisbane) Lawrence English - prolifico media artist nonchè critico e produttore discografico (sua è la rispettata etichetta Room40), che vanta collaborazioni con il di lui affine per le attività svolte David Toop, nonchè con altri mostriciattoli della manipolazione sonora quali Scanner, Ami Yoshida, Janek Schaefer e KK Null - si sono sentiti per telefono o per email e alla fine hanno deciso di sotterrare dopo una accurata aratura microfoni e registratore in luogo di patate, carote o ravanelli! Avranno pur rinunciato al minestrone, ma quantomeno ne è venuto fuori un disco quantomai bizzarro: le tracce sono 4, ma in realtà le composizioni originarie sono soltanto 2, essendo le altre delle manipolazioni reciproche dei rispettivi raccolti, qualcosa che concettualmente è prossimo al remix (o dovremmo dire agli OGM rimanendo rispettando la metafora orto-botanica!), ma che differisce in parte da quest'idea perchè non sono beats, grooves, loops e assimilabili a subire un restyling, bensì di collage microtonali di registrazioni di campo e sfrangiature di frequenze e white noises di ottima fattura.

Per meglio apprezzare l'esperienza sonora immersiva dal taglio "giardiniero" offerta in Untitled #175 da Francisco López, consigliamo di fare quanto lo stesso scultore sonoro raccomanda alle sue esibizioni, laddove spesso l'audience viene bendata, e chiudere gli occhi durante l'ascolto di questa che in realtà è una registrazione di un concerto nell'ottobre del 2001 in quel del Villablanca in Costarica, un flusso ininterrotto di oltre sedici minuti di stimolazioni ambientali, rumori fruscianti, cinguettii di volatili non meglio identificati e ronzii di insetti. La variazione della stessa traccia offerta da Mr English è più ricca di mutamenti di setting e, verrebbe da dire, di mutamenti climatici: Pattern Review By Motion difatti comincia in maniera più quieta del pezzo originario, ma introduce dei coup de theatre sonori quando vengono inseriti dei veri e propri temporali - molto suggestivo il ticchettio della pioggia torrenziale su quelle che sembrano lamine metalliche -, per poi ritornare a paesaggi acusmatici ricchi di microsuoni organici...una crepuscolarità che si ha ricordato La Quiete Dopo La Tempesta di leopardiana memoria! Parimenti Wire Fence Upon Opening di English è un'altra registrazione di un'installazione tenutasi nel 2006 nei pressi del minuscolo villaggio di Samford, a poca distanza da Brisbane, e riproduce un contesto organico...ancora ronzii di insetti, uccellini e field recordings a iosa. Questa è Senor Lopez a invertire l'ordine dei fattori, riproducendo nel rifacimento Untitled #204 una sorta di burrasca in una foresta pluviale. Qualcuno potrebbe arguire che da certi blasonati esponenti di questa branca dell'elettronica c'è da aspettarsi qualcosa che vada oltre la peristalsi del lombrico e il canto della cinciallegra, però resta comunque alta la capacità di suggestionare l'ascoltatore a cui è rimessa la valutazione "definitiva" di siffatto lavoro.

His Voice (CZ) - May 2009
Text by Petr Vrba

His Voice, May 2009

Liability (FR) - May 2009
Text by Fabien

Il fallait bien qu'un jour Francisco Lopez et Lawrence English se rencontrent et fassent un disque ensemble. C'est presque dans le cours des choses. Ici, ce qui pourrait s'apparenter à un split-album n'en est pas véritablement un. Sur le principe chacun des deux hommes était censé offrir a l'autre une pièce de field recording sur laquelle le recevant se devait de la retravailler afin de créer une nouvelle entité sonore. Ainsi Lopez et English nous offrent, chacun, deux bandes sons aux allures concrètes, un voyage au beau milieu d'un environnement tropical inquiétant, rencontre avec une faune grouillante mais insaisissable. Si Lopez est dans une optique plus naturaliste et organique sur Untitled #175, English, lui, s'engouffre dans une veine plus bruitiste se plaçant presque en opposition ou comme un contraste extrême sur la relecture du même morceau proposé par Pattern Review By Motion. Les rôles s'inversent lorsque sur Wire Fence Upon Opening c'est English qui pénètre cette forêt vierge, frôle la claustrophobie et se laisse envahir par le moindre son, le moindre petit détail. A son tour, Lopez lui donne une version plus accidentée, plus rêche mais qui, au lieu de monter en puissance, s'affaire à installer des ambiances sombres et industrielles où bruitismes et nappes sourdes font bon ménage.

HB est un album assez saisissant qui, comme on s'en doute si on connait un tant soit peu les deux personnages, s'écoute avec un volume élevé pour percevoir toutes les subtilités employées. Il faut dire que celle-ci son nombreuses et plus vous avancez dans le disque plus vous avez l'impression de visiter un territoire où l'homme n'y a mis les pieds que rarement. Là où d'autres s'emploient à recréer des cadres urbains, technologiques et modernistes, Lopez et English ont choisi de prendre une direction complètement opposée, préférant s'aventurer vers l'inconnu et une nature vierge de la présence de l'homme ou alors celle-ci se révélant discrète et respecteuse de ce qui l'entoure. Cependant la nature humaine est telle qu'elle finit par prendre le dessus. C'est pour cela que Francisco Lopez & Lawrence English se sont servit de sons environnementaux bruts et se sont investis dans leurs remodelages, rappelant ainsi que tout, finalement, se transforme et peut être perçu et appréhendé de manières différentes selon chaque individu. Si l'on devait donner une signification à HB, on pourrait croire, par intuition, que ces deux lettres sont les initiales de " Human Being ". Comme pour faire comprendre que partout où il se trouve, l'homme est en mesure de faire sien et de s'imprégner de toute chose matérielle ou immatérielle.

UNI (CZ) - May 2009
Text by Pavel Zelinka

UNI, May 2009

Smallfish Records (UK) - May 2009
Text by Mike Oliver

HB is an absolutely fascinating work from these two well established artists. Taking the form of a series of field recordings and found sounds, these pieces are then transformed and processed during the tracks to give a slightly unsettling mixture of the natural and the unnatural. The interplay between the two styles is pretty intense at times, yet it's tempered with the relaxing and deeply atmospheric environmental tones and textures that form the mainstay of the tracks. To analyze it too much would be to spoil it, I think, and it's something that deserves to be enjoyed in full, quite possibly on headphones. That's when it really came to life for me. Recommended.

Atmosfera / Radio Nacional de España (ES) - April 2009
Text by Atmosfera

Francisco López, uno de los artistas sonoros españoles más originales y de mayor proyección internacional, une fuerzas con Lawrence English, una figura lider de la escena de música experimental australiana, en el reciente disco HB aparecido a principios de 2009. HB ha gozado de las mejores críticas internacionales. La música resultante es misteriosa y apasionante, basada en música concreta, sonidos encontrados en grabaciones de campo de lo más diverso realizadas por ambos artistas, y posteriormente tratadas meticulosamente. Tres temas de duración larga (como es habitual en las obras de Francisco López) integran HB.

Record Collector (UK) - April 2009
Text by Spencer Grady

Record Collector, April 2009

Skug (AT) - April 2009
Text by Heinrich Deisl

Fieldrecordings und ihre Transformation ins Ungewisse: Den Arbeitsweisen von López/English entsprechend, wurden von beiden Seiten Fieldrecordings aus Costa Rica bzw. Australien angefertigt und gegeneinander unter Musique-Concrète-Prämissen in den Jahren 2005–2008 gemischt. "HB" ist ein recht typischer Release für die beiden Soundkünstler, in dem sich Soundkartografien aus den hinteren Winkeln des Planeten durch die heimischen Boxen schlängeln. Irgendwo tauchen Geräusche aus der Stille auf, verdichten sich zu einem unbestimmten Rauschen, ob aus der Stadt oder aus dem Dschungel, wer weiss das schon genau? Einmal mehr werden hier sonische Cluster aufgezogen, deren Paradigma Ambivalenz sind und zum Hineinkippen in diesen komplexen Klangkosmos zwingen. Stille wird zum pädagogischen Tool: Denn dort, wo nichts zu hören ist, beginnt man, sich selbst zu hören.

Otsechka (MK) - April 2009
Text by Petar Palankov

Otsechka, April 2009

EtherReal (FR) - April 2009
Text by Fabrice Allard

En janvier, le jeune et précieux label Baskaru a sorti d'un coup trois albums dont nous allons parler, à commencer par cette collaboration entre l'Australien Lawrence English et l'expérimentateur Francisco López. Le premier, responsable du label Room40, a toujours échappé à nos chroniques malgré des sorties chez Cronica ou déjà chez Baskaru, mais nous reviendrons sur Kiri No Oto sorti l'an dernier chez Touch. Croisé au gré de quelques compilations, le second est un véritable artiste sonore autour du minimalisme, des field recordings, musiques concrètes et des limites de l'audible.

Cet album est plus un split qu'une véritable collaboration, puisque les deux artistes ont travaillé séparément, mais sur des sources sonores communes. Plus précisément, l'album s'ouvre avec une pièce de Francisco López que manipule l'Australien afin de produire la deuxième piste, et inversement pour les deux titres suivants. On est assez tenté ici de parler de non-music, et ce malgré le travail d'édition qui a suivi, tellement ces field recordings semblent naturels, simple succession de sonorités enregistrées.
Untitled #175 de Francisco López nous emmène en pleine jungle pendant un bon quart d'heure ponctué de piaillements d'oiseaux et de vrombissements de basses, monstrueux, inquiétants. Lawrence English reprend ensuite ce travail sous le titre Pattern Review by Motion et nous propose une version un peu plus courte, plus contrasté, enchaînant un quasi silence avec le bruitisme d'une sorte de pluie diluvienne, un hachage minéral et un jeu de filtre qui nous donne régulièrement l'impression de basculer d'un univers à un autre, l'un naturel et coloré, l'autre traité, trouble, assourdi.
Wire Fence Upon Opening, est cette fois entièrement le fruit du travail de l'Australien, mais étrangement il s'agit encore de petits piaillements d'oiseaux, frétillements de brindilles et autres bruitages d'insectes. On s'étonnera de voir Francisco López mettre cette source sonore en relief sur Untitled #204 et lui donner véritablement vie. Crépitement entre bruit de feuillage et feu de bois, piaillements d'oiseaux et micro-bruitages d'insecte, puis variations sonores liées au tourbillon du vent pour finir par des infrabasses et micros grésillements.

On ne conseillera pas cet album à n'importe qui. Jouant sur les contrastes entre sonorités et traitements sombres sur des field recordings printaniers avec une rigueur et d'un minimalisme austère, cet album est à réserver aux fans des deux artistes.

Blow Up (IT) - April 2009
Text by Valerio Mattioli

Blow Up, April 2009

Elegy (FR) - March 2009
Text by wqw...

Elegy, March 2009

Textura (CA) - March 2009
Text by Ron Schepper

Fifty-three minutes of evocative field recordings and musique concrète "mutations," HB is pretty much what you might expect from a collaboration between electronic provocateurs Francisco López and Brisbane, Australia-based Lawrence English. More precisely, the sound artists each contributed a field recording and then composed a new piece using the other's field recording as raw material.

Close your eyes while listening to López's "Untitled #175" and you could easily imagine yourself at an aviary on a hot summer day (interestingly enough, liner notes report that at López concerts the audience is often blindfolded). Originally recorded at Villablanca (San Ramón, Costa Rica) in October 2001, the piece is essentially an uninterrupted, sixteen-minute flow of soft ambient noise, faint bird chirps, hog-like snuffling sounds, and insect buzzing. "Pattern Review by Motion," English's "mutation" of "Untitled #175," opens as quietly as the original but is soon drenched by a wave of noise; surprisingly, though, English opts to rein in the intensity and returns the piece to a state of microsound calm before transplanting it to a jungle filled with piercing bird cries, animal chatter, and low-level industrial churning.

Recorded in Samford Valley in 2006, English's "Wire Fence Upon Opening" is as subdued as López's field recording and isn't dissimilar in content either. Again faint outdoor noises, rustles, and bird chatter abound with an occasional rumble disrupting the quietude. "Untitled #204," López's "mutation" of "Wire Fence Upon Opening," evokes a rain forest of amplified insect chatter about to be drenched by advancing thunderstorms. Flouting expectations again, the sounds cut out after seven minutes, leaving a sub-atomic drone and softly cresting waves in their wake for the duration. By now it should be obvious that HB is a surprisingly understated collection by two highly-respected artists which won't shatter anyone's eardrums or speakers. Headphone listening is not only recommended but required in order for the material's microsound charms to be appreciated.

Plan B (UK) - March 2009
Text by Richard Fontenoy

Plan B, March 2009

EARLabs (NL) - March 2009
Text by Jos Smolders

Two big ones meet and what do we get? Four massive compositions with mostly twittering forest sounds. It's quite interesting to listen to, actually.

Recording nature is almost as old as the history of recording devices. But at the time only scientists who wanted to preserve sounds were interested in recording non-musical outdoor sounds. The notion that you can listen to sounds as they occur without any human interaction and perceive them as being musical or at least as having an aesthetical aspect is something that only came about in the 60s (when portable recording devices became more widely available: see how technology influences art?).

These four recordings consist of two originals and two 'remixes' of those originals. Francisco delivered an original recording at Lawrence's address who based a new composition on the original. And vice versa. Interesting? Hmmm, as a concept yes, the realisation is less so. This has mostly to do wit the original material. Lopez's original recordings were made by (as Frans de Waard aptly describes) by 'scraping the bottom of a rainforest'. The resulting recording is by its very nature nondescript: it's simply a very well recorded piece of sonic rainforest. At least to my ears which have never visited an actual rainforest.

The resulting composition by English (based on the original of Lopez) features two main approaches: 1. the sound image is wider (more stereophonic) and deeper (more bass) and 2. it is structured with clear cut specific filtering and compression. Surprisingly English includes material that is not on the Lopez original; at least I missed (multiple times). There is however something weird in the sound palette. All the time, whatever changes there is a low vibrating thud in the background. Sometimes it comes to the foreground, but mostly it stays in the back. This thud wraps all of the other sounds together. The English rework yields an entertaining result.

Lopez's rework of English's original is much more profound. Where English simply changes the soundcoloring (with filters and compression) Lopez charges the material with a different weapon. The first 3.5 minutes he brings the higher frequencies (I guess 3kHz and up) of the original in overdrive (meaning he pumped up the volume) so that they distort. After that a deep bass supports the other sounds. The high frequencies become more subdued. At 6.5 the highs are practically gone. Only the wind (?) can be heard. But it is accompanied by a deep deep drone.

As I said before: entertaining. But also intelligently constructed stuff. (8/10)

D-Side (FR) - March 2009
Text by Jean-François Micard

D-Side, March 2009

Loop (CL) - March 2009
Text by Guillermo Escudero

The Spanish Francisco López works on sound environments around the world focused on nature and plays high range dynamics and subtle silence plays an important role in his music.
Australian Lawrence English explores the possibilities of electronic music, leads the Room40 label and curator of music festivals in his native Brisbane.
López and English joined forces and interchange a field recording peace originally worked by each artist between 2005 and 2008.
Recently they met in a residency led by López that took place in the Brazilian Amazon Mamori Lake with the participation of several sound artists, and brought English to Buenos Aires for a workshop.
The field recordings consist in a wide range of bird's songs, frogs, water, which were transformed by multi-layered sounds and, some of them are almost unheard. The result of this transformation produced new perception of sounds.

RifRaf (BE) - March 2009
Text by Fabrice Vanoverberg

Excerpt from a full-page article dedicated to Baskaru.
Click to read the complete article...

RifRaf, March 2009

Gonzo Circus (BE) - March 2009
Text by Patrick Bruneel

Gonzo Circus, March 2009

Cyclic Defrost (AU) - March 2009
Text by Max Schaefer

From a different sphere, sound practitioners Francisco Lopez and Lawrence English each capture a sound event for this work and allow the other to process it as they will. Generally something of an appropriationist whizzkid, Lopez actually plays it somewhat light on "Untitled 175", allowing the bird chirps and insectile rustling to sink into and rise effortlessly out of the soft buzzes and distant echoes of the piece. For his two works, English has minimal openings pass through a layering process, gathering in density and intensity, often with physical alterations of volume, before cutting back to bare bones and intricate micro-sound gestures. On headphones, it is a wholly involving and pleasurable listen. But one expects more from artists of their ilk, as the collaboration hardly bucks expectation and has little of the event about it.

De:Bug (DE) - March 2009
Text by ASB

De:Bug, March 2009

Leicester Bangs (UK) - February 2009
Text by Willsk

Baskaru is a French independent label that promotes music / sound, where the emphasis is on the electronic. Incorporating musique concrete, sonic exploration, acoustic / electric hybridisation and acous-matic sound, Baskaru limits it's output to a select few per year.

The concept of HB could only arrive at the obscure and unsettling place that it did. Francisco Lopez and Lawrence English set themselves the task of composing a new work based on a field recording piece of the other's. Lopez's "Untitled 175" immerses itself into nature, amplifying and making familiar sounds strange. English splinters, fractures and industrialises the piece to become "Pattern Review by Motion". Then English's "Wire Fence Upon Opening" - a stuttered amalgamation of crickets and birdcall - mutates into "Untitled 204". Lopez's paints it with his own brand of macro sound exploration. A very demanding listening experience.

Tokafi (DE) - February 2009
Text + Interview by Tobias Fischer

Francisco López & Lawrence English: Mysterious acronyms and a strong amusicality...

The year is still young but we are pretty positive that no acronym will beat the title of the collaborational release between two titans of the experimental scene in terms of utter mystery. "H.B.", released on the increasingly important Baskaru imprint, is the short and yet enticing name of the sonic encounter between Australian Sound Sculptor Lawrence English and Spanish enigma Francisco López, the latter of whom the label already refers to as "the most mysterious sound artist ever". There is every chance, too, that few will match the music contained on the disc when it comes to combining striking precision with unrestrained creativity. The principle behind "H.B." was simple: Both artists would contribute a piece of their own, which would then both be published in its original form and in a new and transformed version created by their partner. What sounds like a pretty conservative remix project on paper, however, has turned into an album lavishly endowed with rich details and haunted by an inexplicable allure. Somewhere in between field recordings, microtonality and noise, the ports to an almost frightfully tangible world of sound are opening - inviting the listener to step right in.

» Continue reading the interview : [ Francisco López & Lawrence English: Mysterious acronyms and a strong amusicality ]

NONPOP (DE) - February 2009
Text by Michael We

Der Dschungel dieser beiden Geräuschartisten ist wirklich harter Hörstoff, was auch daran liegt, dass manche Teile so leise sind, dass man sie kaum wahrnimmt. Aber der Reihe nach. Wer sich auch nur ein wenig für elektronische Musik interessiert, ist schon einmal dem Spanier FRANCISCO LÓPEZ begegnet. Der Mann hat in den vergangenen 25 Jahren viel für die experimentelle Elektronikszene getan, zum Beispiel dazu beigetragen, das Kunstradio (oder die Radiokunst) am Leben zu halten. Seine Soundinstallationen sind in 50 Ländern der Welt zu hören, und beim honorigen ARS Electronica-Festival gewann er diverse Preise. Die Denker dieser Welt lassen sich gerne mit ihm sehen; LÓPEZ hat auch Kunstwerke für die Eröffnung von Goethe-Instituten und EXPO-Pavillons gestaltet. Ein Detail seiner Arbeit ist für die Annäherung an "HB" wichtig: Bei Liveauftritten sitzt sein Publikum immer in absoluter Dunkelheit.

Der Australier LAWRENCE ENGLISH ist jünger als sein spanischer Kollege, aber ebenso fleissig in der Veröffentlichung von eigenen und – als Kopf des australischen Labels ROOM 40, das inzwischen fast 450 (!) Publikationen aufweist – fremden Soundexperimenten.

Die Versuchsanordnung für "HB" ist denkbar einfach: Jeder der beiden Künstler nimmt field recordings aus seiner Sammlung, die ihm besonders gefallen, und schickt sie seinem Kollegen. Der darf die Files mit eigenen Feldaufnahmen und Sounds ergänzen, schickt sie wieder zurück usw. Ein CD-Puzzle, sozusagen. Herausgekommen ist ultraminimale Musique concrète, als hätten LÓPEZ und ENGLISH ein Mikrofon auf einer Lichtung liegenlassen und 24 Stunden später wieder abgeholt. Hauptsächlich besteht "HB" aus Vogelgezwitscher, welches aus fernen Ländern zu stammen scheint. Hierin besteht ein grosser Teil der Kunst: Mit ein paar ausgewählten, wie Puzzleteile zusammengesetzten Vogelstimmen eine so grosse, komplexe Atmosphäre wie die eines exotischen Dschungels aufzubauen. Manchmal, zuweilen in fast rhythmisch zu nennenden Abständen, taucht dazu eine Art bäriges Grunzen und Schaben auf. An wenigen Stellen werden die Vögel durch ein starkes Rauschen überlagert, am Ende mischen sich Regen und ein vermutlich teilweise synthetisch erzeugtes Gewitter dazu. Meistens bleiben die Sounds aber im Ursprungszustand eines geheimnisvollen Tierparadieses, aufgenommen aus einer akustischen Perspektive kurz über der Grasnabe.

Teile der CD sind so leise, dass schon das Surren eines Computerlüfters den Sound übertönt. Deshalb – wie angekündigt – Augen zu und Kopfhörer auf. Mit der Bereitschaft, sich auf – mehr oder weniger – 50 Minuten Tiergeräusche einzulassen, ist "HB" wie eine Videoinstallation ohne Video, welches beim Hören aber im Kopf entstehen kann. Für Freunde akustischer Tüftelarbeit.

Paris Transatlantic (FR) - February 2009
Text by Massimo Ricci

Francisco López and Lawrence English chose a simple procedure for this magnificent record, sending each other field recordings to manipulate in the studio, creating two additional works from the original material. "Untitled #175" is a classic by the Spanish soundscaper, featuring birds (only rarely accompanied by insects), a constant, muffled mumble-and-growl, wind brushing the microphone and what sounds like a perplexed polar bear in front of something unrecognized. It's masterfully transformed by English into "Pattern Review By Motion", the overall sonority altered by highlighting the environment's uneven breathing and heavy heart – except for a sudden thunderous dynamic shift – instead of focusing exclusively on the "lead chirpers" (they do maintain a central role, though, and English even adds some of his own in the final section). The Australian's "Wire Fence Upon Opening" is a beautiful example of "communicative idiosyncrasy", utilizing the same familiar elements with enhanced sensitivity: here, the distant rumble of the surroundings is absolutely crucial, becoming the link between our own physical reaction and the mental management of utter solitude. These eight extraordinary minutes of unfathomable existential perception are almost doubled (and thoroughly transformed) by López, whose "Untitled #204" concludes the program by confronting us once more with the threatening face of nature: crusty materializations underlined by distant roars, liquid and metal meshing their quintessence in an atmospheric setting that few could ever experience, quietness ultimately re-establishing its influence like slow death. Yet these vibrations are the basis of life.

Rockerilla (IT) - February/March 2009
Text by Roberto Mandolini

Rockerilla, February/March 2009

Boomkat (UK) - February 2009
Text by Boomkat

The brilliant Francisco Lopez teams up with Room 40 label boss and Touch luminary Lawrence English on this fascinating and revelatory album based on environmental sounds and incidental aural documents. 'Untitled 204' is classic Lopez, reconfiguring 'Wire Fence Upon Opening' (a field recording by English) as a strange piece of musique concrète, one that filters, EQs and amplifies the natural world as an intimidating alien soundscape. Part way through, the piece would seem to go silent, scooping out all but the very lowest and very highest frequencies, leaving a strange sonic vacuum for much of the duration. This is fairly typical of an artist whose work is no stranger to inaudibility - in certain prior compositions it's not been unusual for vast blocks of time to elapse in silence (or more accurately: 'silence', because there's usually something imperceptible going on) before some minor eruption grabs your ear for a split second, only to retreat back into near-absence for another ten minutes or so. Nothing here is so radical as Lopez at his most enigmatic, but it's a genuine pleasure to hear new work from the man, particularly when it's accompanied by similarly fine music from Lawrence English. The Australian artist is in fine voice on 'Pattern Review By Motion', a more earnest and rigorous sonic investigation than many of his earlier, more approachable works, eloquently manipulating Lopez's Costa Rican location recordings (the original source material for which is reproduced here as 'Untitled 175'). A challenging but very rewarding body of work, recommended for fans of BJ Nilsen, Chris Watson et al.

Quiet Noise (AT) - February 2009
Text by Tobias Bolt

Auf der schlicht und geheimnisvoll "HB" betitelten CD, ganz in schwarz, treffen sich die zwei Soundkünstler zur gemeinsamen überarbeitung gefundener Klänge. Sowohl Lawrence English wie auch Francisco López steuern je ein Field Recording bei und nehmen sich bei dieser Gelegenheit gleich das des jeweils anderen vor. Dies führt letztendlich zu vier mehr oder weniger ausgedehnten Stücken, mit feiner Klinge zwischen frontalem Noise, exquisiten Umweltklängen und konzentrierter near silence geschnitzt.

Den Anfang macht die Feldaufnahme von López, dessen Rohmaterial zwar leicht ausserirdisch anmutet, jedoch aus Costa Rica stammt. In einer entspannten Wald- und Wiesenstimmung übernehmen nach und nach extravagante Tieftöne das Kommando, flitzen als zunehmend nervöse Subbasscluster umher, perforieren die Idylle. Ein meditatives Versenken scheint nicht vollkommen unmöglich, erweist sich aber zumindest als ausgesprochene Geduldsprobe. Die folgende Bearbeitung von Lawrence English setzt sich dann gleich zu Beginn breit lärmend in Szene und daraufhin, nicht unspannend, die gesamte Klangkulisse über zwölf Minuten stufenweise unter Wasser. Präzise ausgeführte Blickwinkelvariationen, grossartig.

Die zweite Hälfte des Albums läuft nach demselben Prinzip ab, nur eben mit verteilten Rollen. Das Field Recording, im Samford Valley in der Nähe von Brisbane aufgenommen, ist wiederum sehr dynamisch, ein entrückt sirrender Urwald aus hochfrequentem Knistern und Zwitschern, wie zufällig von gelegentlichem Bassflattern durchsetzt. Etwas kürzer aber durchaus einnehmender als das vorangegangene. Dessen Schichten werden jedenfalls im Anschluss von López kongenial zerschält, verstärkt, gefiltert und zu einem intensiven, elektrostatisch aufgeladenen Klanggewirr verdichtet. Nach der Hälfte klingt das Stück, oberflächlich still, in einem immensen, lediglich von quecksilbrigen Klangpixel durchsetzten Niederfrequenzdrone scheinbar endlos aus – ein eindrucksvoller Schlusspunkt.

Sowohl López als auch English sind aussergewöhnliche Musiker, die es sich hier keineswegs leicht gemacht haben. Wie die Verpackung des Albums, die auch nur auf den ersten Blick gänzlich schwarz erscheint, sind sowohl die ursprünglichen found sounds wie auch deren Mutationen ausgesprochen vielschichtige Klangskulpturen, immer eigenwillig und oft genug scheinbar unzugänglich. Wer sich jedoch mit ihnen einlässt, dem stehen einige seltsam schöne Erkundungen bevor.

Metamkine (FR) - February 2009
Text by Metamkine

Ici en compagnie de Francisco López, il s'agit de la deuxième publication de Lawrence English pour le label Baskaru. Quatre plages (2005-2008) qui font un tout ; deux pièces par artiste. Complémentaire et mystérieusement liée, l'association s'avère chaude et humide telle une mystérieuse jungle sonore et électrique qui grouille d'activités non identifiées. Abstrait, énigmatique et foisonnant.

The Sound Projector (UK) - February 2009
Text by Ed Pinsent

Recent collaborative field recording project is HB (BASKARU KARU:13), joint concocto-product of Spaniard Francisco López and Australian fellow Lawrence English. Both submitted an original recording to the melting pot, then elected to have it made into a remix – or as they would have it, a 'mutation' – by their mutual silent partner in this enterprise. The source materials, scraped from such geographical places as Costa Rica and Samford Valley, are interesting enough, but I think 'mutation' is rather a strong word to describe the subtle and near-imperceptible changes that have been wrought by the hard drives and mixing desks of these two minimalistic sonic delvers.

WHITE_LINE (UK) - January 2009
Text by Baz Nichols

Unless you have been living in the wilds of Borneo, or perhaps some far distant planet, most of you will be familiar with both Lawrence English ( solo artist and Room 40 mastermind), and Francisco Lopez. This fascinating pairing unites two distinctly different, although mutually complimentary sonic talents in one recording, each artist having submitted their own field recordings for the other to work upon. Both of the guys here are no strangers to collaboration, both having worked with some of the most prominent names on the experimental/underground circuit for many years now, so it becomes a part of their language to transmit and transform the sonic DNA of another.

The mysteriously titled "HB", is almost wilfully drenched in enigma and abstraction, with no explanation or unifying theme, other than what basically amounts to a file exchange, so the auditor is left immersed in a sea of oblique, leftfield experimentation, distorted field recordings, and blissful shards and fragments that fascinate, and pique the interest and imagination. Lopez, characteristically opens the collection with one of his classic UNTITLED pieces, #175, a 15 minute ultra minimal workout, that barely imposes itself on the ear, a cascade of activity that utilises slithers of micro-fine fabric to draw the listener into his world. English follows up with "Pattern Review by Motion", a piece that blossoms from near silence, that swells in gradients, which then burst open in a froth of static, and amped-up gristle. The piece then fades and dissipates, rising and falling like slow breathing, using the self-similar sounds that Lopez opened with, a continuous, yet highly abstracted theme. English continues the collection with "Wire Fence Upon Opening", again, enveloping us in a veil of opaque, and discrete auditory presences, minimalism taken to the Nth degree. Lopez closes the album with UNTITLED #204, a strange and alluring field recording, that sounds like a walk through a densely wooded area, full of crackles and ambiguous reference points, strange deformations, once again alternating this with the ultra-minimal central theme that he opens with. Overall, Baskaru have a masterwork of abstract minimalism on their hands, with two names that will carry this release to an undoubtedly successful conclusion – unique and intensely fascinating, and well worth your hard earned dollars...

Vital Weekly (NL) - January 2009
Text by Frans de Waard

On the same label there is a new, another collaborative work involving Francisco Lopez, here with the no less active Lawrence English. The CD opens with an original Lopez piece, then a rework of that by English, who then gets to do an original and then the remix of Lopez thereof. To start with the latter: the latter half of the Lopez remix is very silent, reminding the listener of Lopez' earlier days. In his own original things are much louder and present and have sounds of the rain forest. Its hard to tell what the difference is between both his original and the English remix - the insect and bird sounds seem to continue, even when English filters out some frequencies and emphasizes some others. Also in the English original pieces insects play a big role. If you would sit back and just listen to the music, I think it would be hard to tell the difference between the various pieces, and you could consider it as one long work, which no doubt was the starting point for the two. Not really a big surprise, this one, but quite good.

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