LOPEZ, FRANCISCO: Wind (Patagonia)

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What it says on the package. This is a sustained, apparently untreated and unmixed recording (the notes are ambiguous) of the ever-present wind that agitates the vast emptinesses of Patagonia in winter. Gusts, flurries, squalls, zephyrs, darts and screamers ebb and flow, like a sea under changing weather; indeed the ear cannot always tell to which element it is listening. Wind is the bane of recordists, they try as a rule to avoid it at all costs, so a whole CD of wind is itself a polyvalent signifier - oh dear, yes, here comes a contradiction: for a man who has made a career of 'blind' listening there is a surprisingly exhaustive superstructure of supporting theory and guidance here in the paratextual appurtenances (sorry the language is catching); in a dense little essay we are told how to listen and how intellectually to interpret not only the sounds captured - but the overarching work itself, as an art enterprise. Even the sublime rears its hoary head. I have nothing against information, even - in some contexts - interpretation, but here it seems to detract from the elemental fact of the sound itself. Piling up the heady language that hangs like a cloud around contemporary art - functioning, it appears, as a kind of legitimation-by-contagion - does seem rather to undermine the project, since it renders hollow Lopez's own protestations about 'pure... listening... freed... of procedural, contextual or intentional levels of reference'. I don't complain about the essay or its opinions, only about the seeming bad faith of its inclusion, given Lopez's oft repeated desire to strip away all but the act of hearing. And Lopez's own notes - in the context of this whole package - seem incomprehensibly perverse if you really try to take them seriously. However. Enough. We talk about the CD and the sound it embodies is what it is and creates its own space in its own recognisance. It's an important document - and its completely blank label is its best explicator.

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