Joaquín Gutiérrez Hadid | Sûr
Nothing is more frustrating for this reviewer than being aware of a release’s historical and technical details, yet finding the content inscrutable despite the reiteration of the listening experience. But this is exactly what is happening with Joaquín Gutiérrez Hadid’s Sûr, which I have been absorbing throughout the last days. The immediate feeling was one of sensorial moisturizing; still, whenever a genuine analysis was attempted, a thorough disconnection from materiality prevailed. This condition – call it intellectual numbness, if you will – hasn’t changed since.
Originally conceived as an on-site installation at Casa Victoria Ocampo (Buenos Aires), this work principally exploits the computerized transformation of a female voice reading a poem by Jorge Luis Borges. That voice belongs to the very Ocampo, a fundamental cultural figure in 1930s Argentina. However, you won’t locate familiar components of human utterance by searching with a lantern (except an ephemeral appearance in a track called Pour).
What you get instead is a finely crafted arrangement of baffling sonorities, halfway through processed environment and spectral/mildly percussive electronics, its skilled spatialization stroking the nerves without additional explanations. To quote curator Ezequiel Fanego, the voice is “liberated from its semantic features and reconnected with its qualities as a vibrational body”. To add a degree of puzzlement, as a final move the composer played the entire mix within the interiors of the house piano, thus triggering a different kind of “room response” informed by the instrument’s harmonic refractions.
In a nutshell, Hadid’s acoustic designing doesn’t really permit an inspection; one just needs to let it inhabit and decisively shape the resonant space around our ears. Whatever you might think after my ultimately ineffective words, forget in any case about “ambient”; a name such as Paul Schütze may be closer to an ever-vague target of stylistic comparison. At the end of the day, Sûr is an active complement to the frequencies of consciousness, the latter enabled to decode cryptic signals without mental intrusions. Therefore, receive these sounds in complete silence, letting them murmur their hidden meanings deep inside.