I am often drawn to duality of interpretation or meaning, particularly when that interpretation hinges merely on emphasis. As such, I think ‘Entertaining Violence’ is a great name for a publisher / label, and looking over their small but select catalogue to date suggests it’s highly appropriate. Essentially, Entertaining Violence is concerned with art, and the principle functions of art should be both to entertain and to educate, or, perhaps more accurately, to provoke thought. Art and entertainment are by no means mutually exclusive, and nor should it be considered untenable for art to both entertain and provoke. Their latest release achieves this, although it does very much depend on one’s perspective as to just how much entertainment it provides.
To provide some context from the press info: in the summer of 2015, Sergio Calderón – founding member of London-based avant-garde band 無 (MU) – was invited to participate in the exhibition Not a State, But an Artists’ Colony at Intelligentsia Gallery 智先画廊, Beijing. Sergio conceived STEREO as a transcendental and meditative experience compromising a Two Channel-Video and Sound Installation. As such, STEREO is a soundtrack piece, which was recorded as a live improvisational work of guitar sound and texture recorded at Entertaining Violence Gallery, London the 15th August 2015.
It is not a work which builds at any point: there are no crescendos or bursts of sound, but there are infinite textures. STEREO is a work which explores tonality, in the subtlest of ways. The track drifts on, concentrating on the ebb and flow, the wash and drift as notes struck rise and fall, decay and reverberate in the space in which they’re created. It doesn’t ‘go’ anywhere: that is not its purpose or aim.
What this 47-minute piece really conveys is the tonal range of the electric guitar, when played minimally and given room to breathe. Some may call this drone, ambient; and certainly, the notes and chords stuck are left to hang in the air for an eternity. The tones, the sounds are in themselves muddy, hazy, murky; this is no crisp digital replication of a guitar’s sound, but a fading analogue sound, fuzzed and degraded by environment, by space, by recording technology. It reminds that the listener is never truly ‘in the moment’ when listening to a recording, they are not ‘present’ and the recording is just that; a captured version of events; a recording is not the event itself. A recording may accurately convey the sound, or at least he sonic experience, but it can never fully convey the environment in which the recording was made, it can never capture and convey the experience of being present in the moment the audio was captured. It will never incorporate the experience of whatever may be going on around simultaneously, it can never capture the emotion or the mental processes contemporaneous to and triggered by, the moment.
For all of this, however great the listener’s separation from the moment, a work like STEREO, or, indeed, specifically STEREO affords almost infinite space for the listener to lose, and find, themselves.