Anthems For Unsuccessful Winners F r a n c i s c o M e i r i n o
FRANCISCO MEIRINO’S PHROQ - HALF-ASLEEP MUSIC
CD, Entr’acte (uk) (E59), 300 copies, sold out.
“This music was recorded late at night while I was half-asleep. The idea for this unusual method came from an article on unihemispheric slow-wave sleep, in which one half of the brain rests while the other remains alert. By working only when it was a considerable effort to stay awake, I hoped to capture that moment when music is guided by the subconscious – when, stripped of all the usual critical faculties, I had to rely instead on raw intuition.”
Mystifying snippets of pragmatism and bewitching sonic pictures of seductive stimulation form a somewhat disjointed narration, where both condensed fragmentariness and surrounding spheres of nerve-tickling frequencies have the same right of citizenship. The high quality derives from Meirino’s capability of shaping the fruits of his research into something that sounds like a consistent totality which, at times, becomes consuming to the level of near-debilitation. Yet the juxtaposition of opposite kinds of source, such as superimposed and manipulated electric hum and human mumbling, penetrates the ears without damage, any aesthetic judgement banished in favour of the pure enjoyment of a now alarming, now hospitable chain of events. Inconveniences in the compositional building are entirely absent and even the most radical episodes do possess a sturdy logic, which is what renders the overall process almost faultless. As far as the timbral relation-ships are concerned, let’s just say that Phroq is a noncompliant musician and leave it at that.
Definitely ineligible for the soundtrack to nocturnal quietness – indeed one wonders how Meirino managed to avoid trouble with neighbours whilst working on these pieces - Half-Asleep Music is a gutsy exploration of the semi-unknown aspects of transfixion bordering with illuminated edginess. A highly recommended, rewarding listen from every angle.
The 24 untitled pieces gathered here were all recorded on the brink of sleep and, in terms of timespan at least, they’re incredibly various, ranging from the vanishingly brief to the positively sprawling. But there’s a unity of mood throughout the disc.
The sensation is not unlike being a child in a strange house at night — every rustle and creak is amplified in the imagination, and every pause is pregnant with the unknown. Track three ratchets up the tension, a scratchy, fluttering drone which remorselessly rises in pitch even as it diminishes in volume. Track five gestures towards primal, ultra-entropic Techno, with the faintest whisper of structure exerting gravitational pressure on a cold cloud of dancing fragments. The final piece stretches out over 16 minutes — sussurations writhe like bacteria from some abandoned experiment, and distant metallic impacts swim in and out of focus. It could be the death throes of a Cold War power station — or could it be just the central heating playing up again? Half-Asleep Music plays sinister tricks on the mind through-out. Muted and monochrome it may be, but it achieves, nevertheless, an unlikely potency.