For a guy not so keen on titles, Francisco Lopez’s self-released recordings have been a godsend for the listener. With field recording at the forefront of his compositional process, his unedited or pure field recordings have come with places names and dates, offering an all too rare context to what we’re hearing. So too does Sonic Fields Vlieland, as it’s very much about a specific place – the Dutch island of Vlieland.
At 3 hours of sound, a compact disc wasn’t going to cut it, so instead we have a USB, or if you happen to go there, the soundtrackcity app, which has 6 geo-located movements, where you have to physically reach each location via a hiking route to hear the associated piece. It’s a fascinating concept, and sounds like a lot of fun – working to popularize, or open up sound art to more than the chin stroking boffin.
From bird calls (is it an owl?) to wind through grass, to fire or sounds of water, Lopez layers and recontextualises the natural world, editing, even at times looping his raw materials to build density, increase tension or provide a skeletal spine throughout. So much of what he does walks a fine line between knowing and unknowing, where it feels like you’re familiar with the ingredients, but they behave a little differently or perhaps there’s a small element within that is you can’t be sure whether its mic handling or strange, near mystical editing and filtering.
He works with volume and spacialisation, abrupt shifts, and harnessing the subtlety but also the brutal power of nature. Like many of his works there’s a push and pull between representational and the compositional that never really resolves itself. This is what continues to make his work so fascinating. It’s long form immersive sound that plays with memory and perception, nostalgia, and our collective consciousness. There’s a freedom too, as Lopez doesn’t need to be weighed down by genre expectations or conventions. Literally anything can happen – though he seems intent on maintaining some sonic consistency through these pieces. What’s curious here, particularly in the second half of these recordings is his interest in indiscernible material creating these incredibly hypnotic rhythmic loops which are strangely satisfying.
On Sonic Fields Vlieland Lopez is going for all out immersion, shaping the bottom end, clearly considering the frequency spectrum, though also layering enough fascinating textural material to even seduce a listener who has never come across sound art before.