With two names like these, it's guaranteed. The first of the two CD's, NAV-gate, presents López and Duncan chiselling vibrations that are often suspended at the limit of the audible, and it's true that playback via headphones brings discoveries to the ear that speakers not in a setting of total silence don't catch. The color of the sound seems dark, galactic, in a limbo that contains spirits now ready to make the leap to the center of the earth, to know once and for all the origin of its continuous tremors. A few percussive touches seperate the parts, and in the end you'll find yourself disoriented, needing to understand yet aware of invisible forces new to us. The second disk, NAV-FLEX, starts off from a sort of electroacoustic 'lightning', a dry flash of frequencies that start together as a chord, but then are divided, chasing each other and almost disappearing, only to return and show themselves in the distance, meteorites not flying wild but driven by the same great centripetal force that sends the mind and body to absolute unity: the achievement of perfection.
It's a matter of choosing where to stand: through their work, there are artists who open the mind much more than a thousand books, thanks to a simple concept taken through analysis; John and Francisco are in this company. Otherwise, we can continue to memorize tracks taken from other writings, just to make ourselves look good... but we remain so very, very small.
Double CD by John Duncan and Francisco López, who have worked on sound materials recorded and produced together with the other musician. Duncan's piece, "FLEX", is the more elusive of the two: capturing our thoughts and leading them into a universe made of extremely subtle shades, deep and hidden pulsations, suspended breaths of sound. An organic work, FLEX develops for over an hour, expanding as if it were living material following a strong, determined interior tension. Here Duncan seems to return to the discourse of THE CRACKLING, going even deeper into reflections on invisible forces with extra-human dimensions that regulate the course of existence, a theme confronted in an original way through the creation of strong sonic metaphors: microscopic impulses or immense spaces drawn from broad sounds, with a forceful presence and at the same time full of allusion: reminding us of certain films by Herzog in which the painstaking description of the climbing of a mountain is not only a climb, and the struggle against a river is never only a struggle against a river. The austere structure of FLEX challenges us with a sound that slowly unfolds, assuming diverse forms but always consequential to the others, filling the entire audio spectrum or drifting in an immense emptiness: a flow of lava, overwhelming in its progress and devastating in its calm. The work, fruit of the attention to every slight detail and of extremely worked sound, poses an intriguing challenge to those who like to lose themselves in complex sound structures.
López' CD "gate" is another story, presenting a markedly more digital character, between soft frequencies and thin glitches juxtaposed with moments of absolute silence, that raise strong doubts about the easy use of sound annhilation as a supposed conceptual statement. Beyond this, even in the most elaborate moments the sounds don't seem to have a precise direction; the diluted frequencies and tonal variations, which are at times enchanting, seem to chase one another in a hall of mirrors, showing up again and again: perhaps it's this continuous reflecting upon themselves, until it almost becomes a style, that is not satisfying in the later works of Lopez, less convincing in the sound structure and too often lacking in structural density.
Daniela Cascella, Blow Up, September 2001