Tonight I have been listening to a 3″ CDr on the fine new Reductive Music label by someone named Andrea Borghi, whose work I haven’t come across before, and so therefore (I’ve checked!!) I’ve not written about before. The disc is named Ommagio a Lucio Fontana and comes in a very fetching little translucent DVD case with some nice design. I’ve never really been a big fan of Fontana’s work. I’m not sure quite why, it just hasn’t really captured my imagination in any way. I’m not sure to what degree Fontana’s art actually informs Borghi’s five short pieces on this little disc, but beyond relating to the famous Fontana quote that
“Matter, colour and sound in motion are the phenomena whose simultaneous development makes up the new art”
Given how the music here was made, perhaps Fontana’s thoughts about “matter” are relevant here but then as the liner notes state that this CD captures the sound element of an “interactive sound installation” perhaps there were more hints to be found in the work’s visual elements.
Borghi’s music (if indeed he considers it to be music) here is created by playing treated vinyl records on a modified turntable. The discs have been coated, or damaged by attaching glue and “various dusted materials” and then presumably played on the turntable to create the highly detailed, scrunchy landscapes of crackle and hiss we hear on the CD. The notes also mention that a computer has been used in the process, and certainly in places here the sounds are digitally treated quite heavily, but (I think) that this only happens, at least obviously so, on the last two of the five tracks. Listening again now, Fontana’s words about “matter” could certainly be in Borghi’s thoughts about this music. As Fontana cut through the canvas of his paintings, and considered the density and feel of things in his art, so maybe Borghi’s use of different surfaces, and a tiny needle picking a way across them works in a similar way.
The pieces here, or at least the first three of them, sound like incidental works, almost like field recordings, or what I imagine you might hear if you could attach a tiny microphone to an ant going about its daily business. We hear a multitude of little pops, crackles, crunches, the kind of thing we hear when we put a needle on a record, yet amplified many times over so every tiny detail leaps out. The last two tracks feel more composed. Sounds appear behind others, some more artificial sounding elements can be heard, and parts seem to loop, or repeat themselves to form patterns and a sense of composition in the work. These last two tracks certainly sound more like thought-through music to me rather than the results of a controlled experiment, and there is a greater sense of purpose to what we hear, but at the same time as the music becomes more structured so it also begins to sound more artificial, more human, and less about the fabric of the tools used to create it. So we almost have two sets of music here to consider differently. The early pieces that (I think) have no (or certainly much less) treatment applied feel more alive, more vibrant, and we can imagine the needle ploughing through whatever is put before it on the vinyl, the sound has a strong physical quality to it. Then though, the last couple of pieces have much more of a composed, ordered, and human feel to the, as if we are hearing somebody making more of a statement. Each set of pieces is interesting and rewarding to listen to for quite these same differing reasons. The whole package then, complete with the appealing design makes for a nice, worthwhile addition to the CD collection of anyone interested in this vague area of work.