Seeing Brandon Lopez live was a total chance encounter. I was at the Troglobatem Fest in Stuttgart, when he played there in a trio with Samara Lubelski and Bill Nace. It was a quiet show, the mood was somber, concentrated. Brandon played extremely careful and slow on his electric bass, and I remember I was amazed at what a good listener he is. I sat down next to his amp and stayed there for the rest of the show, mesmerized.
Only months after that I learned that he also plays regularily with a row of my personal musical faves like Tyshawn Sorey, Chris Corsano or the Jooklo Duo (as Jooklo Trio). The press called his music brutal and relentless, but after seeing him back then in this trio, I understood how sophisticated these outbursts are. He has a sixth sense while playing, and, despite being a performer in the most literal sense, which is a joy to watch, his style is as precise as it is charged with emotion - just listen to his solo album on Astral Spirits as a warm-up.
Cecilia Lopez, as Brandon, lives and works in New York. In Febuary, she released the recording of an early work, „c o p a s“, recorded back in 2008 in Buenos Aires. It‘s a composition for 12 wine glasses and 9 musicians. Cecilia is a composer, musician and performance artist. Her work reminds me of Christina Kubisch‘s recordings with electro-acoustic feedback. She performs in wire nets, on piano, synths, piezo mics, things. She is investigating in sounds, in the intersections of technology and human intervention, and in the dynamics which evolve.
What I like about both Cecilia and Brandon is how they switch between the DIY basements of your choice to highbrow institutions like the New York Philharmonic or the Oslo Kunstnernes Hus. How they bend places, situations. This, besides a deeply rooted trust in yourself, might be what it takes to be a good improviser - leave meaning, create meaning.
About a year after the Troglobatem gig, in the midst of the first covid wave, Brandon Lopez posted a short clip of him playing double bass with Cecilia Lopez on synthesizer. This session was the exact opposite of the time I saw him in Stuttgart It also differed from the long-form explorations of Cecilia‘s solo work. It was frenzied, angry, confrontational, and, in the midst of all this madness, cleansing.
I am super happy being able to release this beast of an album into the world. „Guilt Tripping“ is its name. A perfect fit. Sharp and aggressive in sound, it‘s pure bliss to hear this musical conversation on tape. Sometimes it‘s a call and response, sometimes it‘s a polyphonic blabbering of babylonian proportions. Keep in mind what you hear is a double bass and a synthesizer. The instruments change timbres, they imitate, they move in a constant exchange. They swing the world into existence. In retrospect, for me, this recording is 2020 in a nutshell.
Last but not least, in comes Isabel Schroer of Olo Mastering - Isabel also did the mastering of the Levels tape. The alchemy of mastering is a concept I just can't grasp, so Isabel's work leaves me speechless, every time she spills her magic over recordings I send her. Gently and with great caution, she carved out the dynamics of Brandon's and Cecilia's dense improvisation, giving the recording a certain deepness and immediacy that perfectly fits. I can't stress her contribution enough.
Isabel, Brandon, Cecilia - thanks for the journey so far. It was - and is - a pleasure working with you. Tape is out now (since 11th of May), limited to 80 copies, tapes on pink recycled plastic, hand-cut inlays and stickers, each tape dubbed uniquely. 30 still left.
End transmission #8.
Fuck the powers that be,