Unwritten Rules of a Ceaseless Journey by Haarvöl + Xoán-Xil López

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Haarvöl + Xoán-Xil López | Unwritten Rules of a Ceaseless Journey
Crónica (CD/DL)

A startlingly effective drone runs through the new collaboration between Galician artist Xoán-Xil López and the trio Haarvöl (Fernando José Pereira, João Faria, and Rui Manuel Vieira) on the three stilling pieces on Unwritten Rules of a Ceaseless Journey. In 2019 to date, this is by far, my favorite record. It’s a bit breathtaking and hard to write about as I listen. The track The Pulsating Waves (Reality) calls for more of a lateral experience since the mediating tones are as sublime as subliminal. These works touch on three nearly intangible states of mind: utopia, reality and trauma – in that order. The first two really find a perfect balance even while referencing impossible texts such as The Utopian Function of Art and Literature (1964), and making references to “cataclysms of industry, rampant misery, naked exploitation, the ecological apocalypse“. Oh, such is the everyday.

Though their collaboration juxtaposes the sense of euphoria that comes with hovering drones by imposing the concept of all variants of time: past, present, and future. This work documents pieces composed for dance (Ballet Teatro‘s Revoluções) by choreographer Né Barros. Field recordings abridge electronics somewhere in the middle and the pairing of this quartet of creatives is genius. And by the end of the second part it’s as though we’ve been through some sort of industrial cleansing.

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As Don’t Look Back, Run (Trauma) opens somewhere in the darkened orchestral corners, the setting sort of falls to the depths of the soundstage as if falling away into space. The bare bones percussion is uniquely minimal and the waveform is set back, drifting moderately. About one-third through you hear what sounds like strings calling out, wavering a bit as if sending an encoded distress signal. López has taken this amalgamated tale to a secret place while upending the tension with the harmonics of Haarvöl. While a rotor seems to be at play the bereft refrain continues through until nearly the end, and after fading from earshot the listener is left with something pressurized that seems to be sinking away into some sort of watery depths. You can easily imagine bodies (dancers) undulating into darkness.

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