Francisco López, "Live in Montreal"

This is academic music in a very pure form, or so I'm lead to believe. Check out Francisco López's biography on the Alien8 website and it quickly becomes evident that all this music comes with some intent. Given that this release comes with a black blindfold and that the music contains some symbolically painful connections, the only intent I can think of is rather sexual in nature.



Live in Montreal is all about BDSM and designed specifically for a psychological experience in that way. All of this single 38 minute piece works within the bounds of depravation and excess, withdrawing the capacity of sense from the psyche of listener at times and then flooding it with sensation at other times. The blindfold, apparently used by audience members at the show, furthers this perspective: remove all primary perception from the individual and subject them, then, to the experience of helplessness. Perhaps taking an explicitly sexual perspective on this disc is going beyond the information and intent López set out with, but I don't think it is entirely inappropriate.

The music is, as usual, manipulated field recordings. The soft and airy hum of some environment is interrupted with spasms of white noise, dull explosions, and then abrupt silences or near-silences. It's as though López is pulling the proverbial chair out from under me when this happens. This occurrence repeats itself in such a way that I assumed I'd be able to predict it every time, but because nothing López does has any rhythmic device, it is impossible to know when these radical changes are going to occur.

Listening to Live in Montreal is a lot of fun and I get the feeling that, were I to play it for friends in the right situation, they would be genuinely shocked or would at least take notice of López's approach. The silences, at some point, do seem rather painful, if only in a limited way. After having so much sound tossed at me, I was anxious for it to return and actually got frustrated when López took his time making it happen. Listening to this in a dark venue of some kind might provide more kitsch than visceral experience, but listening to it at home with the lights out my eyes closed has generated some amount of anxiety.

Drone would be a hell of a lot more popular if more artists took it to some sexual level. Maybe López didn't intend for this to be the case with Live in Montreal, but I'm not against reading a little bit of visceral fun into this album, especially when its machinations are visceral by nature.