Review: Marta Sainz – Tres Piezas

The sound and space of Tres Piezas hits instantly. A flanger splutters from the other end of the room; a voice choked out by walkie-talkie distortion and a phased whoosh that bends and twists the tone beyond human resemblance, coughed up from a doubled-over silhouette in the corner. It becomes back in wails and woops – near, far, smeared in FX and stripped to a convulsing, sweaty nakedness – and then retreats for minutes at a time, laying dormant behind percussive ticks and thuds. What fascinates me most is how Sainz feels like a jittery and unpredictable stranger – an often terrifying unknown – even though I spend a good part of 50 minutes intimately sharing a stereo space with her.

I feel in witness of an arduous internal battle. Sainz patiently observes the dimming of natural reverb jumping off a drum skin, or the organic cymbal decays that hiss into emptiness, yet her meditative concentration is constantly fighting against her catharsis; those moments where the voice scrapes and barks without reason or motive, throwing calm and sensitivity out of the window to clutch “the moment” with bloody fingers. On “Puntal”, it’s as though she’s interacting with something beyond the listener’s spectrum of sensory perception – stretches of microphone hiss lay between whispered syllables and quivering, icy lullabies, and one imagines that Sainz conversing with an unheard voice that haunts her during the gaps of quiet.