Gil Sansón/Lance Austin Olsen | Works On Paper
The Elsewhere label marks its first year in business with a new release that is expansive and resolutely experimental. “Works on Paper” is a long distance collaboration between Venezuela-based Sansón and Canada-based Olsen. This method of electronic file transfer is common these days with high speed bandwidths enabling artists to create, share and recreate at ease. The pair first worked together when Olsen provided the cover artwork for Sansón’s “Immanence, A Life” back in 2015, and since then the two have respected each others work, both sonically and visually. They then began making music that was in response to each other’s graphic scores, and thus began the creation of this album.
A variety of sound sources were used in the construction of each piece. These include guitar, spoken word, filed recordings, electronics, amplified objects and re-appropriated samples of previous work from the artists.
“Pra Mim #2 – Works on Paper” opens the collection with a wonderfully tactile recording of crunchy noises and what might be a motor running, before a male voice intones the perils of vegan guilt. This piece is by Sansón, and is in response to a graphic score by Olsen called “Pra Mim” from 2016. Each of the four tracks here are long, clocking in at over twenty minutes. This timeframe gives each piece time to breathe and expand into various shapes. Piano notes occasionally break through the surface of mysterious found sounds and gentle drones, creating a painterly effect with the sound pallet.
The second piece is again in response to Olsen’s “Pra Mim” graphic, this time entitled “Pra Mim #1 – Fail Better”. Looser and more spectral this time, the field recordings shimmer like heat haze under all manner of struck chords, twangs and plucked strings. Slowly gathering steam, the spoken word voice again creeps into the mix, his words less intelligible. This abstracted version lies at the ambient end of the electro-acoustic spectrum, the final few minutes reprising those same click-clacking recordings that began the first track.
The following two pieces are by Olsen in response to Sansón’s graphic score “Meditations” from 2017. The first up is “Meditations #3” which buzzes with a high voltage electrical charge, that subsides and allows rumbling field recordings and guitar strums to quietly occupy the sonic space. Again, rustling, tactile sounds add layers of texture to the track, as other sounds are improvised around them. The final interpretation, “Meditations #2” adds fizzing, squirming electronics to a low frequency drone, adding more tension than the preceding pieces through an inferred darkness as those drones billow in and out. I found this the most satisfying piece, due to the contrasting light and dark shades, that resolve in the final stage in a panning mid-frequency drone that hovers until those squits and squirts reappear.
All four pieces work extremely well together, and feel very much like a cohesive whole. Olsen playing Sansón complements Sansón playing Olsen, and between them they have created a masterful collaboration.