John Duncan / Paolo Parisi – CONSERVATORY (SAN SEBASTIANO)

Allquestions/Maschietto (CD+Book)

Those familiar with his Paris Transatlantic interview in March 2005 will recall John Duncan mentioning Conservatory, an installation which at the time was nearing the end of its exhibition life. Nearly twelve months on, those who couldn’t attend can get an idea of what it was like through this package, a sober grey box containing a photo booklet of various perspectives of Paolo Parisi’s work with cardboard, multicolour PVC tubes and wall paintings, and a CD of Duncan’s soundtrack for the event, itself lodged in a white booklet adorned with the author’s handwritten annotations. The above mentioned PVC conduits constitute the basic timbral filter in a 70-minute piece sourced, like several recent Duncan works, in the sounds of the human voice. Through holes in the tubes the voices are transmitted to small speakers that help the sound to propagate throughout the “network”, yielding a “presence” of ghost entities in the live installation, an aspect of great interest for the composer, who pushes the vocal emissions to the limit in wave upon wave of sighs, moans and (involuntarily) hypnotic chanting drones. What sounds like audience members walking around and commenting is also audible at times, but fortunately pretty low in the mix. Through headphones it’s pretty much a medium-to-low frequency daze; it’s better through loudspeakers, preferably in a large bare room.

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