Joćo Castro Pinto - Panaural [Triple Bath - 2012]For this, the Lisbon-based sound artist's debut full-length release, Joćo Castro Pinto has provided several hundred words to articulate both his compositional philosophy and approach. Given the sensorial delights held within the disk, the dry, academic descriptions talking about sonifications and meta-soundscapes create a barrier to what is, essentially, dream-like collages of field recordings creatively enhanced here and there by synthetic sounds and processing.
The opening piece, 'Invocatio', is subtitled "ascribing sound Images into Silence" - which could describe pretty much any recording, but upon listening you get the idea that Pinto is literally viewing silence as his canvas on which he arranges his sounds. Deep, earthy hisses and gushes, fizzing and flowing liquids, teeming radio signals and sudden synthetic sprays all surge in and out of the sound field unpredictably, in the way heated plastic can twist, curl, bubble and burst. It's apparently a tribute to the hermetic symbolism in Goethe's Faust, its's rapid alchemical alterations of found sounds perhaps reflecting the protagonist's unquenchable thirst for 'hidden' knowledge.
Similarly, 'Water-Dreamt-by-Forest' is tantalisingly short in its quick walk through the sounds of a forest that become less recognisable and more processed the deeper into the woods we go. The rich ambience of distant wildlife - dogs, birds, crickets and owls - is filtered through the dense trees to diffuse quickly, increasingly eroded by processing to highlight the pitches within the panoply as the deathly roar of fire and life-giving flow of water together maintain a natural equilibrium.
For Panaural's closing track we're rewarded with a much longer piece that allows its sounds more room to be fully appreciated. Deftly using the significance of a range of detailed field recordings, Pinto takes us on a fictitious journey from an urban maze to a rural shrine. Starting off amidst busy street activity, the stern chatter of men at work is followed by a train journey that terminates bizarrely on a tide. Bobbing up and down on the slow ebb and flow, tools striking wood and metal suggest a fence is being erected channeling us towards an island filled with exotic birdcalls and mysterious chimes gently provoked by the wind. Here a rising church organ gradually grows portending the final segment's 'initiation', filled with the deep, persistent sonorities of bell-ringing that grow in intensity as choristers close the rite.
By carefully revealing synthetic and processed sounds from within vivid sequences of recognisable natural sounds Pinto has created a set of imagined journeys as rich as a film or television drama, yet one where the images come from within the listener. As such it is a brightly lit, enthusiastic display that, in its brevity, leaves the listener wanting more.Russell Cuzner