CD TANGENT001 Time: 52:56
Auditioning long form musical works take time and with the many modern distractions it’s often difficult to dedicate an extended period to focused listening, but for Not Knowing I think you’ll want to make the time (especially if you are familiar with Nicholas Szczepanik’s previous work such as Please Stop Loving Me). In fact, if one is in the right frame of mind (like in a state of meditation, self-hypnosis or deep relaxation) the sense of time is often compressed, and one wonders ultimately where the time has gone.
This piece was originally available in a shorter version on the limited 12 part release CD3 series Ante Algo Azul from 2011, and it was a favorite of mine back then. So, I was delighted to hear that an extended version would be released by Desire Path Recordings as part of their new Tangent series.
I liken Not Knowing, which is different in form and sound from PSLM, to a dream sequence in roughly four parts, although there are threads of sound that keep the piece connected throughout. The first 12 minutes or so is a deeply pulsed and hypnotic mediation that brings one to where memories and dreams might become lucid, but still out of tangible reach. It’s at this point where an imagined orchestra appears from the ether and it flows. Is it a literal sample of another piece or is it combined with electronics? It appears like unresolved memories in a dream. I can hear chords of Elgar…wait, then Dvorak…but wait, there’s the flow of Debussy, a sleight of hand used by other composers, hiding themes from elsewhere, leaving the brain to search for a source, and the sound is ethereal and uplifting (dare I say even heavenly for the non-believers?).
Then the music and perceived vision seems to drift out of reach and almost dissolves. At the point in a dream when one loses touch, but wants to return to the visions, and then the melodies and harmonies arrive again, but in a shrouded form with layers of choral vocals. And within this new realm the piece moves into a less recognizable and deeper unknown territory before gently returning to the original sonic thread, albeit in an altered and transitional chordal-tone state and ultimately the arrival back into the warmth of the visceral pulses.
Although quite different in presentation and instrumentation, I compare the journey in this album to that of some other favorites of mine like Vangelis Papathanasiou’s Rêve from the album Opéra Sauvage and Tangerine Dream’s Desert Dream from their double live album Encore. The development and sound architecture of the piece is clearly influenced by the works of French electronic composer Éliane Radigue, to whom Szczepanik dedicates the album.
Label: Streamline #1033 12” Vinyl LP (no digital download) – Tracks: I – 17: 04 & II – 18:00
Album available from NSZCZ: http://www.nszcz.com/a-few-copies-of-luz-are-for-sale/
More information on album and available at http://www.dragcity.com/artists/every-hidden-color
Every Hidden Color is a collaboration of two hemispheres and opposing seasons: Nicholas Szczepanik in North America (Chicago) and Federico Durand in South America (Buenos Aires). The work of these two artists to date is, to my ears, quite different, and the results in Luz are intriguingly harmonious.
Szczepanik’s work tends to be more serious and deliberate, and at times quite dense with broad masses of sound. Of his most recent work, my strongest connection, is to his album Please Stop Loving Me, which is indescribably beautiful and yearning in its meshing of sound and emotion. I am less familiar with Federico Durand’s work, but I have heard portions of his albums La Siesta del Ciprés (The Nap of the Cypress on the Spekk label) and the more recent (and bad luck for me it’s sold out!) album El Extasis de las Flores Pequeñas (The Ecstasy of Small Flowers on the Own Records label). Durand’s work tends more towards the introspective and ethereal, deftly woven with field recordings.
The pulsing of cicadas, crickets and a streetscape is how Luz opens before drifting into gentle winds (or is it the noise of a distant highway…or does it really matter?) and then a rhythmically swaying melody appearing like a soothing mantra, to then disappear into a sparsely layered and introspective suspension of reality. From there, come gentle rains, soft guitars, birds in the nearby trees, and then all drifts into the softest of walls of sound and finally gentle voices.
This is an album of contemplation and a sensitive appreciation of the world around us, from the smallest sound to the broadest landscape, and also to the light—Luz.