(And/OAR)

The sea is an obvious source of fascination; innumerable artists have tried to come to terms with its sonic power in the past. Marc Behrens and Paulo Raposo added a “mechanical” nuance to their interests by recording the noise of ferry boats and quays in various Portuguese marine locations, placing them amidst other local environmental recordings to generate this beautiful artifact. “Itinerantly” composed between 2003 and 2006, “Hades” stimulates and wakes up the nervous centres, but even more often it leaves a lot of mental room for concentration and reflection. The raw materials chosen by Behrens and Raposo allow for an intriguing deployment of gradations that might sound indelicately harsh in tracks like “Gate 1″ but, when sapiently treated, become mutations of angelic choirs looking for a sky to dissipate in, ruptured by faraway thuds and bumps, or even studies in dreams elicited by adjacent pseudo-tones, finally directed to complete oblivion (“Crossing into”). “Gate 4″ is an enthralling, obscure drone in a reverberant virtual cathedral of noise, exquisitely sober and impressively layered, later morphing into a siren’s lament lowered three octaves, wind and seagulls barely perceived in this profound context; it’s a masterpiece of the untold, one of the overall best compositions I’ve enjoyed in at least a decade. Every sonic object manipulated by the couple is translated into something utterly meaningful, and the silences they leave for the sounds to breathe in are nicely filled by extraneous elements (a faraway belltower entered my room at noon this Sunday during this listening session, and it was wonderful). “Hades” is brilliant, just like everything in the And/OAR catalogue.

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