int014 | VA AA LR | Polis



CD, digisleeve, insert / edition of 200
11 March 2015

  SOLD OUT at Intonema

На Intonema выходит альбом трио VA AA LR, являющийся документацией аудио-инсталляции, случившейся на улицах Порту. Подготовленные заранее полиритмические звуковые пьесы были воспроизведены через акустические системы автомобиля в разных частях города, записаны, а потом смикшированы с исходным материалом. Ключевые слова для описания музыки: ритмичные алогичные конструкции, работа с полевыми записями, восприятие пространства через звук.

Intonema releases VA AA LR album! "Polis" is the documentation of an audio installation which took place in the streets of Porto, in Portugal, late May 2014. Polyrythmic compositions were prepared by the trio, combined, and relayed via a car sound system, in various locations across town. These were recorded and then mixed with the source material, cross-referencing it with the sound as was altered by the situation.

Vasco Alves
Adam Asnan
Louie Rice

"For real group composition, Polis presents a combine, of intentional sounds and unexpected factors. Electroacoustic composers Vasco Alves, Adam Asnan and Louie Rice collaborated by preparing compositions and then mixed them, playing the mix through a car sound system that drove to various locations around the city of Porto. A complex but not impenetrable blending of sounds emerge, with different tracks overlapping each other, elaborated upon by different locations and live sampling of urban spaces. A neat convergence of pure sound, documentary, field recording and spatialisation."
(Ben Harper, Boring Like A Drill)

"POLIS is the great mix of a sound car installation in the street of Porto, realized by Adam Asnan, Louie Rice and Vasco Alves. The sounds aren't as abstract as usual, they are more rythmic, rather melodic, we can enjoy slow and deep bass line, clear rythmic loop. But the finest is the presence of the streets : it's not about field recordings, just a good performance in situ. The mix of the sound cars within the life streets is just fantastic : equal, subtil and thin. Beautiful three short pieces."
(Julien Heraud, Improv Sphere's Facebook)

"Techniciens compétents, Vasco Alves, Adam Asnan et Louie Rice – ainsi donc : VA AA LR – ne s’interdisent pas d’avoir ici ou là recours à la bricole. Dans les pas des musiciens que le second publie sur Hideous Replica (Lucio Capece, Birgit Ulher, Kurt Liedwart ou encore, et même davantage peut être, Coppice), le trio  enregistrait récemment Polis.

Un peu plus d’une demi-heure d’une électroacoustique épatante : où des graves imposants évoluent sur constructions pneumatiques et, en se frôlant, font des étincelles ; où les bruits enregistrés d’un chantier font jeu égal avec une poésie polyglotte – que le Portugais tire à lui puisque le travail est né d’installations montées dans les rues de Porto et Serralves ; où une basse, enfin, claque en suivant le parcours d’une bille lancée sur roulette avec de bercer sur deux notes les cris d’une cour de récréation. Et si les field recordings de notre trio d’initiales sont d’un commun universel, son invention électronique se charge de les sublimer."

(Guillaume Belhomme, Le Son Du Grisli)

"Very good piece of process-art grimness from the trio of va aa lr, who may be known to you as Vasco Alves, Adam Asnan, and Louie Rice. Many’s the time Louie and Vasco have ruined my life with their stern, minimal experiments, some of them released on their own Hideous Replica label in London. Their polis (INTONEMA int014) is an extended installation piece documented and augmented across three long tracks…the original sound art was first created and stored on some playback medium, then loaded into a car stereo system, and driven around the streets of Porto in Portugal during the summer months of 2014.

Whatever happened thereafter to cause any change in the situation has accordingly been documented, and then cross-mixed and spliced with the original source recordings, on this release. What it means effectively is that we hear field recordings of people and the city either adding to or accompanying the brutally minimal sound, which either pulsates or drones or grinds or otherwise inserts itself into your carapace like an unwanted visitor. As ever, the trio of composers do nothing to explain or interpret, just present you with a near-anonymous wall of grey concrete and expect you to account for it. Even the cover photographs could have showed us something about the situation behind this intriguing set-up, but the nondescript images of cars in the street have been carefully printed so that they are well-nigh unreadable by the human eye 1.

At length, assuming you are prepared to subject yourself to enduring this torturous non-music, certain patterns and rhythms begin to assert themselves, and what emerges is much like a sarcastic, reductionist, slowed-down version of what a non-believer thinks Doom Metal sounds like. Ultimately what emerges from all this is an abiding sense of complete futility, because the audience of happy people in the street appear to be completely indifferent to the groaning horrors issuing from that nearby deserted car with its doors wide open, and carry on about their business. Nothing has changed, in other words. Just great! This is what avant-garde art is all about! From 23 March 2015."

(Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector)

"Super-classy trio of movements designed for nervous boy racers with those massive sub-woofer systems in their peach fiestas (probably)*

I’ve always had a soft spot for VA AA LR.  Some of it must be their sound palette.  Like Martin Klapper or Voice Crack they are taking non-musical objects and breathing sweet sound into them.  Where VA AA LR differ is with the range of non-musical instruments used. Some of this is well documented (the flares of Newhaven for example) but here we have a mystery set of oddments from the past, present and future: aerosols, scaffolding, de-tuned wood and things unknown and unknowable.  Add to this the occasional voice and this warms up the effect like bubbling soda – less cold machine slick and more pink, rosy glow.

In movement one gritty loops of escaping gas click into place neatly with an ice-cube crackle and a louche, off-hand bass tone.  It’s like sonic lego; small units that are cute enough on their own but transformed when snapped tightly together to create a blocky Taj Mahal.  What could be terribly austere becomes playful as field recordings of voices, seagulls and windows rattling add an emotional heft to the crackle and pop of this strictly downtown funk.  Yeah…watch out Ronson!

Movement two continues with the bass science as a 2 x 4 plank is twanged all flubbery.  The builders are in next door banging away on pig iron with meaty pork mallets.  The nail-bar whirr of micro-dryers pepper the proceedings like correct grammar, making perfect sense but unseen (or heard) until you tune in.  The voices, this time a trifle menacing, are sometimes front and centre in the mix but occasionally sneak left and right with crude Portuguese curses.

Movement three is like a man or woman patiently undertaking a tough physical job, fence-posting for instance.  The rhythm of the task gets into your bones; you become the act of lift, drop, secure.  Ropes are bound tightly round this track adding a nylon bounce above the fly-tippers percussion and dry Perspex rattle.

Strangely enough the overall effect of listening to Polis is that I feel a little smarter than I did 33 minutes ago.  Like when anxious parents play baby Mozart to pump up their grey matter.  VA AA LR are the official brain gym for the mid-life dropout.


*if you are a details freak you can read about the real genesis of Polis here.  Until then… you can imagine what you want!"

(Joe Murrey, Radio Free Midwich)

"The micro-macro sound art power trio are back with this great release on St Petersburg’s Intonema label. Polis documents an installation in the streets of Porto last year, in which Vasco Alves, Adam Asnan and Louie Rice created a detailed electronic composition, which was then played through a car sound system, recorded and that recording then remixed after the fact. On this CD, you get three versions of the piece – or three different pieces, depending on your viewpoint – and they’re all bloody brilliant.

At first, the piece (or the first piece of the three, if you prefer) seems definitely to sit at the micro end of the scale, occasionally similar to the trio’s recent-ish Ping Cone cassette. So there are inscrutable crackles and rumbles aplenty, but there’s more emphasis on rhythm here, with a pleasing low-end pulse and a series of regular hisses, pops and clicks. It’s kind of minimal, but rigid enough, with that special beauty that comes from repetition. It starts me thinking about what industrial music would sound like if it were made by insects. Real small insects. Like ants.

But then you get to hear the piece played through the car speakers on the streets of Porto, recorded in situ, and it’s time to refocus. The insect techno is now a fucking huge monster groove, the pulse like the deep sub-bass hum of a conquering mothership. All sorts of heavy clangs and hostile electronics blurt and squelch across the space. It’s so ominous, so alien that it’s disconcerting to hear human voices – passers-by, or an audience of sorts – seeping in after about five minutes. These people are probably out for a nice evening walk, maybe going for a plate of sardinhas later, or a nice glass of Vinho do Port. Why aren’t they running for their lives?

By the final track, things are mashed up for sure. The rhythms are juddering, malevolent, less metrically rigid than the first two, with more fuzz and scrunch messing up the clarity. If you were in a club this would be the music you’d hear at 6am, when only the real brain melters are still dancing, their frazzled lobes somehow able to detect any fragment of groove, however twisted. (In fact, I seem to remember the techno DJ Surgeon playing a track very similar to this one very early morning at a rave in a filthy basement just off Brick Lane, sometime around 1996. I mean, are these guys time travellers, or what?)

Then, just as you think it’s safe to dig the zombie groove, the trio mess things up even more. About 10 minutes in, they lay down a guttural, saw-toothed blast of noise, a vast Satanic burp that also acts as a kind of fuzz filter, amplifying and scuzzing up the sonic chassis that immediately preceded it. It’s pure Driller Killer from then on ‘til the end, the trio ploughing a grinding, electro-mechanical furrow, daring you to follow in its slipstream as it razes everything around it."

(Paul Margree, We Need No Swords)

"Polis documents an installation that took place on the streets of Porto, in which polyrhythmic compositions were played out through car speaker systems at various locations over the town. This disc is the result of merging recordings on location with the source pieces, meaning that the busy and oblivious chatter of passers by gets caught up in the net. In the context of a public space, the trio’s pieces sound laboured and anxious – a respiratory mechanism of chains and unoiled hinges, pushing synthetic lungs outward with an unhealthy motorised heave. It’s a symphony of antiquated technology. All by-product, no action; a rusted chassis rattling in the flimsy confines of loose screws, doing a deplorable job at containing the feral growl of the engine behind it.

The interplay between the three musicians is an absolute delight. Each embarks on his own rotary cycle but remains delicately aware of his compatriots on either side, nestling into their rhythmic nooks and back-chatting those brash, punctuating spikes of volume. At times I can almost smell the cocktail of petrol and oil, or see the toxic black smog wafting into the air. Was the audio really run through the car speaker system, or rewired to billow under the bonnet and belch out the exhaust?"

(Jack Chuter, ATTN magazine)

"Wherein our favorite initials-only trio (Vasco Alves, Adam Asnan, Louie Rice) take sounds from earlier installations, including the conversations of passersby and/or gallery goers, and place unexpected emphasis on rhythmic elements, albeit slow, even drippy ones.

We hear three pieces, each carrying a rhythm that persists more or less throughout. The first begins with sets of gloppy, electronic thuds of a sort, with a sharp attack and dull finish, irregular actually but giving a sense of pulse, soon interspersed with a repeated sounds like static being poured onto a table--interesting that last, imparting an oozing, liquid sense to a dry, prickly sound. The activity from the streets of Porto filters in; the voices are usually indistinct, though you can make out that it's Portuguese being spoken, parents with children, bohos, etc. But those initial elements drive the piece, some perhaps sourced from jacks being pulled, speaker frames vibrating, all arrayed in a loose rhythmic field, the static spill providing steadiness. Spare and juicy at the same time, very nice. On the second track, the rhythm is more blatant, a 2-2-1 sequence, super fuzz-laden, sounding as though unearthed from a death metal crypt, that worms its way through hammered beams and crowds, the odd buzz and bang incorporated along the way; again, good, unclean fun. The last track's rhythm is complicated, am intermingling of electronic pulses similar in character to those found on the opening piece, woven between quasi-rhythmic, burred tones that sound like a gigantic, rough-toothed saw being drawn through unforgiving wood. As before, you hear the public, in this case innocent children cavorting, blissfully unaware of the behemoth lurking around the corner. The beast unleashes a triumphant roar, bellowing like an apartment-sized double bass being assaulted by a 20 foot bow, the underlying forward chug still present and moves on, the population oblivious.

Good stuff, very different from standard fare, rather unique."

(Brian Olewnick, Just Outside)

"This trio is getting places! And that's a great thing. They played in various countries by now, and have their releases on more and more labels. Vasco Alves, Louis Rice and Adam Asnan hails from London but in May-June 2014 they were creating installations in the streets of Porto and the Serralves Museum Park and the results of that ended up on a CD released in St-Petersburg. There is a promo clip for this CD on youtube, which gives you a pretty good idea about the music, but nothing about how this was made. As you may have learned from the previous reviews of their work, I enjoy it all very much and at the same time I have no idea what they do. There are no concert clips, I think (I don't want to be accused of lazy research obviously), to be found, which is a pity. I think they work with speakers, objects and contact microphones, and I would like to believe there is a strong aspect of performance to what they do, but perhaps I'm wrong. Looking at pictures on their website, they seem to be a trio behind a table with objects, sound carriers and mixing boards, so perhaps less performance like (maybe more Kapotte Muziek like, I thought). Sound wise they reminded me so far of Dutch trio BMB con, but this new release is perhaps a bit more 'musical', which may seem odd. There was, so far, a certain random aspect to the music they produced, but here, in these three tracks there are continuous loops to be heard, repeating all the time, and a whole bunch of them. These might from the objects they play, or found sound in the street; whatever is the case, really. Around these loops they add strange little/small sounds, dropping in and out the mix at quite random moments; cars passing, people talking: maybe coming from the streets where these installations were? And just what would these installations be then? I have no clue, but my best guess would be something to do with a variety of speakers transmitting this stuff. It seems to me a relative easy idea but it's performed with some great care and has an excellent intense feel to it."
(Frans De Waard, Vital Weekly)