Daniel Menche Sirocco

[Important; 2005]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: drone, experimental composition, ambient
Others: Francisco Lopez, Phill Niblock, Climax Golden Twins

Contrary to many experimental practitioners out there, Daniel Menche isn't known for improvisation or chance music. He's not trying to tap into his subconscious, and he's not about eschewing songwriting talents for some sort of spiritual intervention. Menche is all about control. If the music gods offered him nuggets from above, he'd record their descent instead and process the hell out of it. "The space between the amplified speakers and the listener's ears is my primary focus and how that space can be maximized with sound energy." Meticulously crafted and boldly designed, Menche's soundworld always strives for something he calls "vehement beauty," a concept that hopes at the very least to impart the raw energy of sound, leaving the rest up to the listener's imagination. Though the sound sources change and the music continually shifts, Menche's ability to communicate the visceral potential of sound to a living audience has been a constant.

On Sirocco, Menche's source this time isn't bodily (heart, lung) or 'natural' (wind, animals). Menche breaks from his usual experiments by appropriating sounds from other sound producers. Taking one-minute samples of exclusively written music from the likes of Merzbow, Illusions of Safety, Andrew Lagowski, Asmus Tietchens, John Duncan, et al, Menche "melts" them into rich, layered drones, with splashes of obtrusive yet contained chaos. With such varied sources, Menche is able to craft an album that is colorful and unified, flexible yet controlled, smooth yet textured. And because of its elongated nature, the listener is able to focus on Sirocco's overall energy rather than specific hooks or discernible sections. The music fucks with your sense of time, displacing you into territories lesser known as you surrender to its massive output.

But it's not only musical formalities which make Sirocco a success. Working in a style that often favors technical proficiency over human response, Menche again addresses the notion of beauty on Sirocco, a common theme throughout his work. Beauty, of course, is subjective and culturally relative, but I truly believe that, with significant investment on the listener's part, Menche's work could be deemed "beautiful" by just about anyone. It simply takes understanding and an open ear. And it works both ways, of course. Far too often, the avant-garde blindly relinquishes any concept of audience reception, creating work that pulsates in obscurity due to its almost academic, theoretical nature. Menche, however, isn't about to let music theory keep him from producing meaning between the artist and audience, even if most of it's left up to the audience's imagination. Sirocco, in this sense, is an anomaly in the excess world of so-called drone music, and refreshingly so.

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