AMN Reviews: Adern X & Tiziano Milani – Cinema Show (Xevor); Seth Cooke / Kevin Sanders – Split (Hairdryer Excommunication)

Italian sound artists Adern X and Tiziano Milani paid for their tickets, skipped the popcorn and moseyed down the aisles of their local cinema to make a series of field recordings for reprocessing back in the studio. With a battery of synthesizers, laptops and a shortwave radio, the duo craft their Cinema Show, a well-paced drama with conflict, ambiguity and resolution, particularly deft in arranging the audio mise-en-scène of acoustic orchestral strings and electronics. What was being projected on screen – an expessionist materpiece or symphonic tone poem, The Third Man or Bertolucci? Through four “reels” and a five-minute intermission, the muffled original score conflates with the ambient sound of the auditorium and the recording studio manipulations, as it is looped, layered and edited. The further adventures of Adern X can be taste-tested in the archival compilation Ink Spots Called Words: Works 2007-2012, tracing a lengthy chain of demos, commissions, radio broadcasts and pieces based on sounds submitted by colleagues Sawako and Kim Cascone.

Funny how what is otherwise extremely annoying can become downright entrancing at the right volume. If Cinema Show is a dense canopy, the Split CDR by Seth Cooke and Kevin Sanders is urban field recording at its most decorticated. Cooke has recorded a construction site pile-driver and Sanders seems to be inside a mall, near the escaltor, perhaps, capturing the squeak of rubber souls and baby squeals backed up by an ominous droning undertone. Phases shift and loop, or does it just sound like that after spinning around in the old coconut after a few minutes?

Stephen Fruitman