PORTA5 CD: VA AA LR - Crackle Party

--> First full length release by VA AA LR, the trio Vasco Alves, Adam Asnan and Louie Rice.

Improvised electronics;
distress flares;
fire extinguishers.

Track 1: 9’24”
Track 2: 12’19”
Track 3: 10’58”

Recorded in London 2011 / 2012.
Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi.

Edition of 100 (hand numbered).

CD comes with 4 alternative covers inside a thick PVC sleeve. Professionally duplicated and screenprinted CD-Rs.


“Definitely one of the stranger releases of late was a set of three 3" CDRs with a couple of seconds of music on each of them. Total length of all three pieces: thirty two seconds. You had to play them all together and loop them. I thought was great and presented in the weekly podcast my own 'mix' (see Vital Weekly 860). Here the trio of Vasco Alves, Adam Asnan and Louie Rice a more conventional release of three pieces on a regular CDR. Housed with some excellently printed cards in a plastic bag, one could think that these 100 CDRs could have as easily printed on a real CD. The press release speaks of 'improvised electronics, distress flares and fire extinguishers' as the sound sources for the music. Somehow I think much of what they do is produced in a live context and there is a conceptual edge to it. Maybe I am misguided by the distress flares and fire extinguishers thing, but it also reminded me of that great Dutch trio BMB con, who used electro acoustic music in a live performance context, in which they also used fire works, bowling balls and such things, amplifying surfaces with contact microphones to be sure of that crackling sound. That is something we have here too. And just like BMB con VA AA LR know how to create something that is also worth hearing on a CDR, severed from the context of the performance. In the three pieces they display a great love for all things unstable: near broken contact microphones, the crackling of the flares and the escaping of gas from the extinguishers are all played with great care and ear for detail. Their pieces sound like well rounded compositions, rather than 'just' improvised doodling over some unconnected sounds. This is put together with some great thought and fine sense of composition. Excellent!”

Frans de Waard in Vital Weekly #873

“ [...] In between the things we can control and the things we can't control are things where we have a vague idea of what might happen when we activate them but can't guarantee any level of accuracy in our predictions. It seems to be this particular category of phenomena that attracts Vasco Alves, Adam Asnan and Louie Rice (VA AA LR). Crackle Party is made up of barely controlled releases of sound, like lifting the lid of a boiling saucepan for a second just to hear the steam escape, or touching two wires together to see what happens. Bzzzt!

The CD comes with three photographs that serve to illustrate the crackle fetish: The first, to coincide with Track One, shows the trio performing live as arms reach into the frame to manipulate unknown objects in the dark. Track Two's is the violent, incendiary flare of pyrotechnics against a black sky, a bright white plume of smoke rising through a red glow. A fire extinguisher and a pair of industrial rubber gloves illustrate Track Three. These are pretty explicit references to the materials used in the construction of the compositions.

Track One is a walk along a quietly throbbing path of undulating bass beneath an unstable sky which threatens to burst at any moment. Clouds occasionally glow and subside. The air is full of the tension that precedes a storm, so much so that every so often the molecules in the atmosphere actually bristle with energy and instability, but the sky never breaks, the storm never comes.

Track Two begins with a flare of gas or fire that peters out to a series of almost footstep-like crunches of sound. Each discreet element is given room around it to expand into the given space, so even though there are three people creating this music simultaneously, they maintain the decorous idea of not invading each other's personal space. Sometimes the eruptions of thermic activity sound like planes disappearing into the sky as they reach their allotted vanishing points. Maybe Track Two is a recording of three men lighting fireworks in a field? Maybe the footstep-like crunches are footsteps?

Track Three might involve welding equipment, gas cylinders, fire extinguishers, high pressures and hissing valves. Then again it might not. In any event we seem to be in a workshop as the sounds are distinctly light-industrial. Items are struck or gently tapped and tickled, valves are opened and closed. A bit of treatment through a delay pedal every now and then tightens the wrench and reminds us that we are inside a composition, an artistic construct. [...] ”

Chris Whitehead in The Field Reporter

“Voici le deuxième disque que j'écoute de cet excellent trio anglais de nouvelle musique concrète et électroacoustique, composé de Vasco Alves, Adam Asnan et Louie Rice. Trois pièces, plus ou moins improvisées, une demi-heure de musique. C'est court, mais efficace. Le trio continue de jouer sur la matérialité du son, sur la physique acoustique, à travers l'amplification d'objets, les manipulations électromagnétiques et l'utilisation de micro-contacts. Le volume est généralement assez faible, on entend quelques craquements ici et là, quelques buzzs et parasites, des variations électrostatiques et du silence. Un volume assez faible pour mieux accentuer les effets de rupture provoquès par diverses manipulations èlectroniques mais également par des objets très forts, notamment sur la deuxième pièce, à savoir des fusées de détresse surtout, et quelques extincteurs sur la dernière pièce. La musique de VA AA LR est vraiment surprenante, c'est très concret : l'amplification des objets métalliques, des frottements de papier alu, ou des fusées, n'est pas passée au crible d'effets ou d'un équaliseur trop présent. Le rendu est plutôt brut, on distingue assez bien ce qui peut être utilisè, et pourtant, leur musique ressemble vraiment à une plongée abstraite dans le son. Peut-être est-ce du aux structures informes et aux ruptures très franches et brutales, mais même sans cela, on ne sait jamais trop ce qui se passe, pourquoi, comment. On distingue des choses, mais on se demande comment elles ont pu donner ceci, elles ne sont pas perçues comme elles le seraient habituellement. VA AA LR travaille le son de manière brute et subtile, c'est évocateur et lègèrement, subtilement décalé, d'où cette impression d'entendre tout ceci pour la première fois, ou de manière vraiment nouvelle.

Bref, une superbe musique concrète et électroacoustique très originale, contemplative et très active, faite de silences et de ruptures fracassantes. Une plongée profonde dans un univers sonore neuf et créatif : conseillé.”

Julien Héraud in Improv Sphere