Sunday, 26 April 2009

PHROQ – Half-Asleep Music

Francisco Meirino (Phroq) recorded this material at late night - he was barely managing to remain awake - not because of a lack of alternative timing, but to carry out a private experiment after having read an article about uni-hemispheric slow-wave sleep, a phenomenon that causes half of the brain to rest while the other maintains alertness. According to this approach, the resulting music should be guided by the subconscious and essentially identified by what the composer calls “raw intuition”. In reality, in one of those peculiar circumstances subverting the expected order of things, this project appears carefully planned and lucidly executed, which we unquestionably prefer to the inconclusive out-of-tune drowsiness of many drugged idiots worshipped by certain publications.

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 relationships 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.