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Various Artists

Liquified Sky
Bandcamp Reviews
Liquified Sky
  • Fascinating and beautiful audio-visual project exploring the synergy of light and sound…

  • Not for the first time did our office player release sounds that made us doubt that our equipment was functioning imperfectly: actually this happens quite regularly to people who focus on the contemporary experimental scenes. However we soon awoke from our astonishment and learned from the linear notes of Liquified Sky that due to the special nature of this project the contents of the high-res data DVD need to be transferred onto hard disk and streamed with the correct software. We did this and were immediately rewarded with dreamy imagery constructed out of minimal, ethereal and fascinating sounds. We found ourselves plunged into multidimensional sensitivities, natural self-organization processes and adaptive resonances. The delightful dirges of Mucilaginous Omniverse Part 1 floored us – its sounds created by COH and the video installation by the famous pairing of Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand, who document the colloidal dimension of biological systems in a visionary way. In the second part, the cells agglomerate and reject each other, with a sonic background performed by the video-makers that is even more rarefied and dilated. The scene changes greatly in the third episode with Hydro Acoustic Study, developed in wonderful black and white by Paul Prudence and combined with the sidereal and captivating sounds of Francisco López. The final episode is Memory Vapor, a video once again made by Domnitch and Gelfand, this time coupled with the audio sequences of Asmus Tietchens. The whole work is dedicated to the filmmaker Slava Tsukerman and to the 1982 science-fiction film (it owns almost the same name) “Liquid Sky”, unanimously considered as the main symbolic inspiration for the electroclash movement.

  • There’s something frightening about the fact that quantum behaviour can be observed on a scale we can visually perceive. Gone is the buffer of inarticulability and incomprehension, which held such alien processes within the realm of the mythic while the large-scale world continued to unfold within our cocooned understanding of causality; the video element of Liquified Sky eradicates the requirement for words to bring these phenomenon into focus, coupling the images with audio compositions that share this defiance of linguistic categorisation. In other words, one must experience Liquified Sky in order to understand it.

    On “Mucilaginous Omniverse”, particles of silicone oil quiver and congeal, embarking on volatile alternations between momentary stasis and ecstatic spirals that escalate without instigation. The audio (provided by CoH in part one, Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand in part two) is wonderfully synchronised, mirroring the moments of vibratory agitation with bass frequencies surging in on shallow gradients, and punctuating each pipette-planted bubble with a staccato pip reverberating into the surrounding infinite. In the presence of such mesmerising and otherworldly movement, the composers seem at home—energy slurps in from nowhere, and plosive fissures occur without the need for any explicit source, showering the black canvas (which sometimes resembles lightless, oceanic depths) with hollow streams of soft noise and alien sonar.

    Things turn terrifying in the second half, commencing with Francisco Lopez conducting Paul Prudence’s bubble membranes and mercury streams in “Hydro Acoustic Study”. There’s a stretch around the halfway mark where a pendulum of crushed static sends a jelly circle into shape-shifting alternations, gifted shape by the phantom light that radiates its intricate, fluid contours – it’s an unnerving whirlpool that tilts and mutates under erratic and slippery sonic instruction, rife with glimmer and inward reflection. Meanwhile, “Memory Vapor” (Domnitch and Gelfand on visuals, Tietchens on sound) brings an otherwise imperceptible cloud chamber into a slow-motion glow stick precipitation, illuminated through contrail streams of vibrant green and pink—the soundtrack captures both the fluidity of movement and the visual’s micro-particle construct, moving in gargantuan dynamic surges comprised of thousands of internal pulses.

    While I do not share such a perspective, one of the common “criticisms” of sound art I have encountered is that it burrows too deeply into itself—it is “sound about sound”, a snake eating its own tail—and thus drifts outside the realm of human contact, too abstract to push the buttons of emotional response. With Liquified Sky, the world itself becomes hauled into this state of logical introversion and self-reliance; sound art becomes as real as the chair on which I sit, and while its bizarre texture and movement feel fictitious and unrelatable, one soon begins to understand that the corporeal world operates on a similar foundation of chaos and mystery, paradoxically rendering sensory experience as the only certain truth.

  • Liquified Sky is truly a synthesis of audio and visual, emphasizing the indisputably organic connection between fluid and light, as well as the physical effect of sound waves upon both.  It might not be the most convenient release, being a data DVD, but is well worth the effort.

    Half of this release is made up of a two part visual piece titled “Mucilaginous Omniverse” by Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand, the first half scored by COH and the second by Domnitch and Gelfand.  The visual component of both is a series of colorized video recordings of drops of silicone oil being propelled by the sound waves of the audio accompaniment, with the droplets merging together into natural geometric shapes and then dissipating.  For the first part, COH’s shimmering noise and radio-like static create a sense of cohesion as synth bell tones and fluttering electronics keep things flowing.  It may seem abstract at first, but there is a surprising amount of structure and organization to it. The audio portion contributed by Domnitch and Gelfand on the second half has less musicality to it and instead a cold, clinical sound that works quite well on its own. Oscillating between delicate microsounds and deep, heavy passages of menacing electronics, the piece closes on a rather soft note.

    “Hydro Acoustic Study,” visualized by Paul Prudence and scored by Francisco López is a different experience entirely.  The video component is heavily digital, consisting of patterns and shapes modeled to match the properties of water and shaped by the sound that propels it.  Using generative strategies to visually animate, López’ sound is at times more aggressive and forward than I usually expect from him.  His penchant for quiet, near silent moments are interrupted violently, eventually locking into a mechanical rhythm that causes digital interference in the visual proportion.

    Finally, Domnitch and Gelfand present “Memory Vapor,” made up of a cloud chamber and particle accelerator illuminated by a white laser that becomes a spiraling, neon tinted prism of particulate matter.  The audio portion by Asmus Tietchens is shrill and somewhat sparse in nature compared to his other work, but is completely effective, with its dirty, grimy hue acting as a perfect counterpoint to the fragmented visuals.

    Authored as a data DVD, rather than a traditional video disc, the highest resolution playback of these videos (in 1080p) is allowed.  However, that means that it is unlikely to play in most standard DVD players, and given the significant bitrate of each video, streaming it off the disc is not the smoothest experience.  For that reason it is best copied to a hard disk before playing (each video is between 1 and 2.5 gb), and thus it is not necessarily the easiest thing to just throw on.  In some ways it makes for the perfect antithesis of the prevailing lower fidelity, digital download culture that has gripped most forms of music.  I watched it via a PC connected to my TV and audio receiver, but I would have preferred if it had been presented as a BluRay disc instead for the sake of convenience.  However it is presented, both the visual and audio portions match each other perfectly, with neither overshadowing the other in significance, resulting in an experience that is worth the effort.

  • There’s a big different between ‘just music’ and ‘sound art’ — the latter requiring active participation of the listener/visitor. A release on Richard Chartier’s Line label is not something you just take for granted, consuming it playing in the background while being distracted by many other things.  So,  it may take some time and serious effort investigating the works presented on Liquified Sky  before these audio-visual works can be fully appreciated. But it’s worth the effort!…

    Liquified Sky presents a fascinating and detailed view of “cascades of standing and traveling waves that outline the adaptively resonating lattice of intercellular communication”—four fascinating video studies paired with equally fascinating soundscapes…

    Although it may help to fully understand the work,  you don’t have to be a physician or engineer to appreciate the result. Sonically ánd visually,  it’s a fascinating trip to a world unknown. , Although the creative process is entirely different,  the results are not unlike the fluid slides that were popular in the psychedelic sixties. And yes… it’s quite a ‘heavy trip’ indeed…

    Once again,  Line delivers a project of audio-visual art one would usually only encounter in rare museum installations or at multimedia art festivals….to be enjoyed at home.,

  • This data DVD comes in LINE’s usual house styling: formal, clean and with an air of academia. Pretty much all of the releases I have heard from the label have carried that academic “potential”, without it ruining the simple pleasure of the works as sound. “Liquified Sky” ups the ante in this regard, with knotty texts explaining some of the science behind the four pieces presented. I say “explain”, but to be honest the vast bulk of it went right over my head; so I concentrated on the works themselves. Each “track” combines “abstract” visuals with befitting sounds, or vice versa if you’d rather.

    The first piece, “Mucilaginous Omniverse, Part 1” features sound from COH and installation/video documentation from Evelina Domnitch and Dimitry Gelfand. Its dominated visually by flickering blue bubbles (oil droplets, I believe), which give the impression of a cluster of comets, hurtling through space. They are accompanied by clipping, backwards lurches, over modulating background drones. These build into watery drones almost akin to reverberating didgeridoo tones, with breathy sounds that crescendo. Curiously, the audio reminds me of a more highbrow Pressure Of Speech (an obtuse “trance” outfit from the mid-90s), much helped by a rhythmic electroacoustic section halfway through. The second work on the disc (“Mucilaginous Omniverse, Part 2”) is created entirely by the Domnitch/Gelfand duo and, in stark contrast to the first, its shared bubble visuals are dark: red on black. Sonically, the piece is much more subdued as well – and all the better for it; with waves of low drones swelling like tectonic plate scraping. Nestling in this generally bassy landscape are little lines of very high pitched tones, almost glitches; which add a nice sense of detail and craft.

    The third, and unashamedly my favourite, work (“Hydro Acoustic Study”) combines video from Paul Prudence with sound from Francisco Lopez. This mesmerising construction feels like the most effective marriage of visuals and audio on the album. It moves from intense strobing imagery to ghostly lights – like sunlight filtering through trees, before ending in a near-nauseating swirl of patterns. All of this video work is a very stark, and very detailed, white on black. The audio element is suitably strong too, with Lopez crafting creaks, rumbles and a drone somewhat similar to reverberating hoovers. As the track develops, Lopez emerges with a rhythmic construction that flits around the stereo-field; really cementing the notion that this is the most accomplished work here. The final piece, “Memory Vapor”, returns to the installation and video work of Domnitch and Gelfand; though this time Asmus Tietchens provides the sounds. On reflection, I probably shouldn’t have suggested such a gap in “quality” between the Prudence/Lopez piece and the rest of the compilation, since this last work is equally entrancing. Visually, its truly beautiful; certainly the most arresting video on the album. Essentially it looks like falling sands, dropping in waves and patterns and made luminescent in the colours of the spectrum. Really very enthralling, in the truest sense. Aurally, these sands (actually condensation droplets) are soundtracked by a breathy, whistling drone; constructed from waves and layers of hissing, ghostly sounds. The overall effect is of a shimmering but linear (static, even) quality which is consistent in sight and sound.

    Whats been interesting with “Liquified Sky” is how much the visual elements have made the aural elements harder to define or describe – I can’t really extrapolate that any further, but its been noticeable. Perhaps we have a tendency to “see” shapes and patterns in sound, whereas in this case there are shapes and patterns already accompanying the sounds… Following on from this, its unclear how much direct input each has had into the other. The Prudence/Lopez piece would definitely seem to suggest visuals generated from sounds – or vice versa; but this remains uncertain. One piece of solid ground, though, is the fact that the last half of the compilation is really very good indeed. Its been a reminder that I should seek out more work by Lopez in particular.