Musician Gianluca Favaron collaborates with Ennio Mazzon as Zbeen and Stefano Gentile as Under The Snow, as well as releasing work under his own name and under the moniker ab’she. “Equivalent XI”, his new release for Silentes’ ‘Private Sounds’ series, continues where the recently reviewed single-sided 12″ “Surfaces” left off, and in fact overlaps somewhat with that record, in some instances presenting the same sounds under different track titles. The music is built from recordings of everyday objects such as paper, scissors, kitchen utensils and the like, treated with effects and arranged into sparse patterns and loops; the album’s title points, intentionally or not, to Carl Andre’s (in)famous “Equivalent I-VIII” series of sculptures made from geometric configurations of identical bricks — the ordinary and everyday posited as ideal.
The album’s technique of using acoustic sound sources and electronic processing gives it an ambiguous, shifting character. The timbres initially sound entirely synthetic, an impression highlighted by the cleanly articulated arrangements and metronomic rhythms, but certain forms and tones put this simple attribution in doubt: the rolling from side to side heard on track 6, the snapping on track 9, and the dripping water and hum of frogs and cicadas on track 11 all sound too ‘real’ to be synthetically generated. There’s no guarantee, on the other hand, that these sounds are actual traces of what they sound like. In these moments, ‘reality’ becomes an effect embellishing a mathematically-ordered and digitally constructed sound world — a curious reversal. Of course, these sound worlds are also real, as sound. They point to something else, claiming affinity with it even as they distinguish themselves from it. Maybe for all these years we have been asking the wrong question of Andre’s piles of bricks: perhaps we should have asked, “What makes it not art?”.
This skewed mimesis brings “Equivalent XI” close to other Italian musicians working with electronics and acoustic sound sources, such as Mazzon and Andrea Valle. The latter artist’s preference for short ‘miniatures’ is also evident here, with each track lasting just long enough to sketch out its own idea. With this album, Favaron doesn’t so much dissolve the acoustic/electronic distinction as constantly erase and re-inscribe it, each time adding a layer behind which the traces of the previous boundary remain faintly audible. This continual replay opens up lines of flight and of equivalence unavailable to Andre’s static brick arrangements. [Nathan Thomas]