Francisco Meirino - Sonic Anthems For Unsuccessful Winners
NOTEBOOK (TECHNIQUES OF SELF-DESTRUCTION)
CD, Misanthropic Agenda (USA), 4 panel digipak-matte finish, Ltd 200
Features eight pieces of abrasive music made of electricity, mysterious forces, sharp knives, dying tape recorders and voices below the threshold of intelligibility.
Features "Techniques Of Self-Destruction" originally a piece for eight speakers commissioned by Jerome Noetinger for "l'Audible Festival" in Paris, 2012.
Assembled and mastered at Shiver Mobile 2012-2014.
1 Le Processus De La Signification
2 Field Tests
3 Weak Recording Of An Embarrassment
4 Being A Lame Being
5 The Seperation Of An Assimilation
6 You Know Nothing
7 Techniques Of Self-Destruction Part I
8 Techniques Of Self-Destruction Part II
R E V I E W S
"Here is the new studio album by Francisco Meirino, an experienced artist with more than 100 live performances under his belt. Meirino's projects are always very interesting and feel almost custom-made for the major international electronic music and audio art festivals.
Now based in Lausanne, the artist has returned to Misanthropic Agenda, a label keen to have him back since his last release for them in 2010. At that time Meirino was fostering collaborations with a number of other composers such as Dave Phillips, Gerritt Wittner, Paul Knowles, Kam Hassah and Alleypisser.
Notebook features eight different compositions that unravel through field recordings and abrasive electronics recorded with contact microphones and other devices. The track "Techniques Of Self-Destruction" was originally imagined as a composition for eight speakers commissioned by Jerome Noetinger for Audible Festival in Paris in 2012. The song impresses us for the density of its sounds and the evolving geometric patterns, sharp stepwise movements and elegant leaps that are consistently engaging and stylistically very well balanced.
The atmospheres permeating this record are all very "worked", creating a textured cinematic quality that has been designed to hold the attention of the listener. Meirino had succeeded in this endeavour and while the listening is not easy, it is never penitential, with harsh audio emergencies and sketchy melodic grafts complemented by gaseous outbursts, hissing with pleasant and expertly-crafted vibrations."
"Ce qui est extraordinaire avec Francisco Meirino, c'est comment au fur et à mesure de son travail, il accède à des formes plus proches de la musique électroacoustique tout en conservant sa touche et son originalité. Passionné d'interférences, de ratures microphoniques et autres phénomènes électriques, il ose de plus en plus organiser, composer, ces matières au-delà de leur propre vécu. Un travail toujours en alerte qui sait tenir l'écoute sur le qui-vive. Une collection de sept pièces réalisées entre 2012 et 2014 dans le studio de l'auteur. Recommandé !"
Furious Green Cloud
It was not without some excitement that I found Francisco Meirino's newest solo album on Misanthropic Agenda, the home of several of his previous collaborative works. Something has long set Meirino apart from a host of other artists with similarly demanding and prolific output. Always the audio polyglot, this album fully displays his revocation of auditory puritanism. Full of oddly-shaped fields, broken electronics and distant vocals all acutely edited by computer; it is a small wonder that the tracks come across as a cohesive work.
Having thrown the album on play with little more than a glance to the tracklist, what I believed to be breaks between tracks were as often as not found midway through a piece. The transitions between sections within tracks are often more drastic than those between. While the aggressive editing of audio sources and effects prevents much predictability of dynamic or tonal range, it nevertheless plays out with a comfortably narrative structure. The sharp transition in dynamic range between 'Weak Recording Of An Embarrassment' and 'Being A Lame Being' is smoothed somewhat not so much by the vocal samples present in each track, but by the continuation of recognizably human sounds. The muted vocals (as understandable as the writing on the album's cover is legible) of the former shift abruptly to the latter's eponymous words being uttered in baritone; but even after that sample is cut short, we are left with a human presence in the unmistakable sound of typing. The same voice is revisited in the following track, as though Meirino were stating variations on a theme.
These samples, or fields, or audio remains of people ebb and flow throughout the album. Though the opening 'Le Processus De La Signification' is as categorical an introduction to the work as one is able to get with electroacoustics, building from quiet fields with slowly swelling noise, it quickly cannibalizes itself into high-register surgical detail bereft of any recognizable acoustics. As frequently occurs across the album, soon after the listener can no longer discern whether that delicate high-register pink chatter is purposefully synthesized or merely an audio artifact of a low-fidelity field recording, the scope is abruptly pulled back into a dynamically complex composition. Though many listeners will be accustomed to the latter in Meirino's work, the nearly drone-like episodes peppering the work provide some rare and welcoming solid ground. Periodic rhythmic elements also contribute to this effect, like the stereoscopic percussive rattles on 'Weak Recording…', which are truly gorgeous and poignant moments in what is a rather quiet track by Meirino's standards.
Elsewhere, as is becoming common, the listener will find a certain amount of extended technique with the recording process itself. We hear tapes starting and stopping, unedited clips of microphones being moved by hand and other evidence of composition and production. Thankfully, these never fall on the wrong side of camp or experiment, and the careful construction of ambiance around these moments fosters a more intimate setting than is common to much of his oeuvre, only reinforced by the vocal segments.
If the album has a weakness, it is perhaps the use of this vocal material. Its presence often feels tacked-on, or used (with comprehensibility perhaps (self-?)consciously obfuscated) merely as a sort of Gothic window-dressing. This may be in part an homage to noise motifs (more on which later) but the murky mutterings come across as somewhat cliché. I personally would have preferred to hear the samples used more explicitly or purposefully. Of course this can be done with or without grace; in the genre Mattin perhaps exemplifies the former, countless screaming noise acts the latter. While I would not argue that they detract from the work as a whole, it leads to an occasionally disjointed sense of intimacy. On the one hand, the immediacy of the recording, editing and consistent iteration of fields, and on the other the anonymity and vagueness of the most recognizable human forms. Of course, this may be the intention . . . Point being, I suppose, that I've heard other albums by Francisco Meirino at least somewhat similar to this one, but I'm still waiting for him to pick up where the incredible My Voice Is Unique left off.
I would be remiss if I didn't address the track titles, and some of the audio material for that matter, both of which have often led me to think of him as a sort of contemporary Swiss Joe Colley. Like him, Meirino both embraces and rejects the expectations and institutions of noise music in a simultaneously irreverent and carefully crafted manner (both artists having to some degree matured in that tradition). Ironic or not, the angst-ridden titles and emotional screeches through the work provide an interesting counterpoint to its unabashedly rhythmic and harmonic sections.
Further exploring the terms of his relationship with noise, much of the literature disseminated with his work (and, claro, its title) covers his prolific use of broken equipment and audio media in various states of deterioration. The effects of this choice of instrumentation are most evident on 'You Know Nothing' and the penultimate track 'Techniques of Self-Destrucion Part I'. The former begins with a heavily mulched piano prelude and the latter slowly fading electrical currents. But the re-purposing of those currents as the source for a sort of sampling synthesis effect later in the track demonstrates perfectly one of the most enjoyable aspects of Notebook.
While explorations of malfunctioning instrumentation and media have obviously been in the collective unconscious of many musicians long before the pensive and fatalistic, albeit pretty, works of William Basinski (whom I mention only as his outlook seems rather pervasive in contemporary music), Meirino instead invokes a sense of optimism. Each unanticipated cessation of sound on a tape is used as an opportunity to propel the narrative forward to new audio territory; each poorly recorded or bit-rotten sample is contrasted with his own high-fidelity synthesis. Though the nearly EAI instrumentation that starts the last track breaks into a variety of slightly dissonant undertones aping harmonic intervals, by the of the work they are, refreshingly, simply harmonic. For all its auditory and literary nomenclature of deconstructivism, the album as a whole is flush with regeneration and creativity.
Maybe I'm just in a good mood.
Over the past five years (or so), the work of Francisco Meirino has moved ever forward by leaps and bounds. Once the man discovered what could be done with an EMF detector, his aesthetic world exploded from that of a guttural noise-monger to that of an exemplary composer of muscular electro-acoustics. In sonorizing the signals from his EMF detector, Meirino gives voice to the electrical field in any given space. Parapsychologists and ghost hunters have used these devices as citations pointing to their claims of hauntings, poltergeist activity, and residual energies from psychic distress. Not surprisingly, Meirino did engage in the realm of the paranormal by working with ghost hunter Michael Esposito on an album mapped out of EVP recordings sourced by Meirino and researched by Esposito. Audio bleedthrough, spikes of energy, crude stabs of noise, electrified drone, and disruptions of all kind are commonplace within the sonic markmaking for Meirino; and Notebook (Techniques Of Self-Destruction) stands as one of the finest albums in Meirino's catalogue. Aggressive cuts across tape and digital files reveal jagged edges between frequencies and sonorities that Meirno exaggerates and telescopes as if all of his sounds were atomic particles irradiated with x-rays and then smashed against the clinical floor of some Swiss laboratory left to wiggle, glow, and collapse without much concern from the technician doing the smashing. There is a violence to Meirino's work, and it's one that carries over from his youthful days working under the noise moniker Phroq. The violence is actually more impactful given the dynamics of Meirino's techniques and compositional artistry. It's obvious that he's been pursuing a parallel path as that of the Schimpfluch Gruppe (e.g. Rudolf Eb.Er, G*Park, Dave Phillips, and Sudden Infant); and Notebook is a worthy contender to follow in that lineage of transgressive actions and theatrical nihilism.
By now Francisco Meirino has created a nice catalogue of work that deakls with all the aspects of failure. Not in it's execution but at it's origin: broken down equipment, the last dying breath of an amplifier, an extension cord, a near broken plug and all such like are part and parcel in his work, along with the usual field recordings. He records all of those whenever they occur and puts them back into the overall composition, which he creates. That makes his work quite noisy, loud, dirty, but unlike many other noisemakers, Meirino creates a composition rather than a mindless stream of sound. Sounds do not just rattle on, feeding through some distortion boxes but Meirino places his sounds carefully on the canvas - the multi-track sound edit program - and starts mixing his sounds together so it is engaging composition to hear. He has a fine play with the dynamics of sounds. It can be very soft, isolated on one hand or heavily layered together so all the events are to be heard at the same time. He also uses heavy equalisation of his sound material, so deep end bass drone rumble is never far away. Meirino is along the lines of Joe Colley and Roel Meelkop, although more heavy and darker than the latter, but sharing a similar sensibility when it comes to pasting his sounds together. This new work (one track from a previously released LP, plus seven new ones of which two were used in an installation for eight speakers) is another great addition to his body of work so far. Not his definitive masterpiece but continuing a fine upwards curve. (FdW)
"My first encounter with Francisco Meirino was at 2013's Ende Tymes festival in NY. I have a personal disdain for laptop performances. But, I can't deny that the sounds he created were epic. When given the opportunity to listen to, and review, "Notebook," I wasn't sure what to expect. Would this album be as big in sound as his performance was? Released on Gerritt Wittmer's Misanthropic Agenda imprint, the description for this album read : "Eight pieces of abrasive music made of electricity, mysterious forces, sharp knives, dying tape recorders and voices below the threshold of intelligibility."
"Notebook" is a fascinating listen. The album sounds like a lot of hours went into the careful assembly of each layers of objects, oscillators, field recordings, et al. Each layer plays its part the whole with some louder in the mix, others more hidden. The sound of knives sharpening(?), alone, gives "Notebook" a feel of danger like something is coming, ala Bill "The Butcher" sharpening his knives in "Gangs of New York." Francisco has created a masterful work, and I look forward to hearing what he does next."
"Questo lavoro nasce inizialmente come un'opera su commissione per l'Audible Festival di Parigi nel 2012. Francisco Meirino è un cesellatore sonoro di stanza a Losanna, dove ho avuto modo di vederlo in azione la bellezza di nove anni fa all'interno del LUFF Festival, in una serata che mi lasciò più dell'amaro in bocca, a causa di un programma a mio modo di vedere poco comunicativo e chiuso in sé stesso. Sbagliai a non approfondire il lavoro di Francisco e ne approfitto ora per parlare del suo nuovo lavoro.
Le frequenze manipolate sono fisiche ed affilate come lame e si saturano nei padiglioni auricolari pungendoli a più non posso. L'inizio è bello tosto, squittisce come un animale in gabbia Le Processus De La Signification e mette le carte in tavola. I suoni sembrano una commistione di sintetico e naturale per una sorta di abrasività calda.
Field Tests è un intermezzo che sfrigola e si conclude in trenta secondi, tenendo alta la tensione. Recording Of An Embarassment mantiene un profilo basso, sputando qualche sporcizia sui sibili accennando ad un confronto più fisico, quasi a dei palloncini sfregati e martoriati fino a distruggerli.
Being A Lame Being è gelida soundtrack d'ambiente scricchiolante ed accartocciata, come una città del ventiduesimo secolo abbandonata a sé stessa.
Ecco, forse è proprio questo il punto… siamo abituati per convenzione ad associare la sporcizia sonora ed una bassa fedeltà ad uno scenario d'annata, ripescando, come archeologi, registrazioni di basso profilo che testimoniano l'evoluzione sonora qualche passo più indietro rispetto all'attualità. Qui invece siamo nel presente pieno, con alcuni slanci nel futuro (per la concezione del futuro digitale e freddo che sessant'anni di science fiction ci hanno inculcato) e veniamo stravolti da questi suoni metallici e slabbrati, come i residui ferrosi espulsi da una fresa.
The Separation Of An Assimilation unisce questo concetto con una voce metallica e posta in secondo piano, che ci fa apparire attori in una fabbrica sullo stile coltivazione del pesce in Existenz. Sono rimbrotti e carillon distori che ci abbracciano in You Know Nothing, ennesima creazione di atmosfera realmente filmica, come udire quel che avviene nella stanza di chi preme i tasti in un 2048. Ci creiamo delle immagini senza avere risposta alcuna, seguendo stimoli terrei e digitali, corrosi e materici… qui sembra di udire l'arrotino alle prese con un paio di coltelli che sfibrano le nostre cellule grazie ad un sulfureo contorno di scintille e vaporose sublimazioni.
Techniques Of Self Destruction è una suite in due parti che conclude l'album, soffusa su distorsioni minimali ed accenni melodici che, appena respirano, vengono stuprati dalla pesante mano digitale dell'autore che colma il tutto con la sua cappa scura. Poi il ritmo è dato da quelle che sembrano semplici azioni meccaniche per poi riprendersi e concludere con i consueti sibili gassosi.
Gli sprazzi silenziosi ci fanno riprendere fiato ma siamo oramai sommersi da una spessa polvere silicea che ci fa giocoforza soccombere, quasi come topi di laboratorio come quelli che sentiamo squittire sul finale. Non abbiamo molta scelta, abbracciare questo pungente rumore e conviverci, oppure chiudere tutti quanti i nostri porti e provare a resistergli.
Fossi in voi sceglierei la prima opzione."