If, on the basis of the instrumentation, you expect one of those junk-noise collages which so often don’t work, you’re in for a big surprise. Although on paper Modisti are a duet of live object-sampling and voice, in reality their pieces are carefully constructed. Lopez may play “objects intended for the trash”, but he has no interest in the dull banging about which usually emerges from such an approach.
The key to this duet seems to lie in Lopez’s use of the sampler. Through this, he is able to take the original sounds, process them and work them together into a cohesive whole. What’s really quite astonishing about this disc is that it’s a live recording; everything sounds so crafted, with that overall logicality which usually comes from hours in the studio.
These pieces have all the coherence of electroacoustic compositions, and although some preparation can be deduced from Lopez’s use of tapes and samples, the element of improvisation gives these performances a very attractive spontaneity. Martin uses the extremes of her voice for the most part; at times, as on track three, her choked, gutteral sounds are disturbing rather than particularly musical. For the most part, however, these primeval sounds fuse closely with the electronics.
The result is cybernetic, like one of those moments in a Cronenberg movie in which you can’t be sure whether you’re looking at a primordial animal or a futuristic machine. In that difficult third track, for example, Martin’s in extremis gargling is picked up by Lopez and re-analysed, forming the basis of an uneasy but fascinating game of variations.
Lopez, as a promoter of CEDI and editor of the excellent Hurly Burly magazine, here shows himself to also be an extremely capable and interesting musician; Belma Martin’s voice sounds like few others, and her courage in pursuing such an unforgiving path has paid off in this duet. Those who enjoy electroacoustic composition will love this disc; these are eight very distinctive, challenging and accomplished improvisations at — as the title slyly implies — the border of music and everyday sound.
Released 16 July 1999
Belma Martin: Voice , Wind objects
Pedro Lopez: acoustic and electronic sounds to be analyzed and reproduced on invented instruments. Reuse of objects intended for the trash. Computer aided design of sounds then transfered to a sampler for live use. Microphony and “real-time” manipulation of electronic tapes width pedals.