blank spaces – a closer listen

Gianluca Favaron has recorded some of our favorite drone albums. This makes us look forward to every release, but it also raises the bar. Would the artist continue to impress with his latest tape? Absolutely. Our only concern is that the title implies that the artist doesn’t want to be happy. So we’re a little worried ~ perhaps we should lie and say that we don’t like his music? We can’t; it’s just not in our DNA.

The main title, Blank Spaces, suggests the aural version of a white page or canvas. If silence is the blank space, how should it be decorated? Favaron continues to use a marginally linear approach, in that his compositions contain trajectories while disregarding traditional forms. He’s more interested in textures and tonalities, a wealth of which are on display here. Glass, metal, synth and miscellaneous debris all factor into the recipe, warped into electronic shapes, piled into not-so-tidy protuberances. Certain sounds beg for guesswork: the shaking of a spray paint can five minutes into the first side, followed by rocks on chalkboard and tapped milk bottles; a seat belt pinging midway through the second. Hums and buzzes, crunches and crashes punctuate the sound field. One of the most distinctive is a high-pitched, theremin-like squeal, mashed against the tolling of bells.

Just when the artist has turned abrasion into attraction, inviting listeners to lean into his music, he flips the script. Side B starts with a loud, repetitive *pah!* that may lead people to check their stereo equipment. The irony: one would never encounter this sound on a faulty cassette. My first experience was on an iPod, my second on a MacBook, my third on a CD player. Each time, I was fooled; the glitch is on me. Whether or not this is intentional is unclear, but the effect remains; Favaron thwarts our expectations at every turn, in this case turning technology against itself, underlining the mode of delivery and offering different experiences in different formats.

By filling the blank spaces with real life sounds, Favaron explores the nature of hearing. When peripheral sounds are amplified, meaning can be gleaned, or at the very least, perceived as existing. The aforementioned ping may be the most important, as it stays around long enough to provide at least the illusion of form. Perhaps these sonic spaces were never blank in the first place; we only needed to listen more closely. (Richard Allen)