Review: Domnitch + Gelfand + CoH + Prudence + Lopez + Tietchens – Liquified Sky

There’s something frightening about the fact that quantum behaviour can be observed on a scale we can visually perceive. Gone is the buffer of inarticulability and incomprehension, which held such alien processes within the realm of the mythic while the large-scale world continued to unfold within our cocooned understanding of causality; the video element of Liquified Sky eradicates the requirement for words to bring these phenomenon into focus, coupling the images with audio compositions that share this defiance of linguistic categorisation. In other words, one must experience Liquified Sky in order to understand it.

On “Mucilaginous Omniverse”, particles of silicone oil quiver and congeal, embarking on volatile alternations between momentary stasis and ecstatic spirals that escalate without instigation. The audio (provided by CoH in part one, Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand in part two) is wonderfully synchronised, mirroring the moments of vibratory agitation with bass frequencies surging in on shallow gradients, and punctuating each pipette-planted bubble with a staccato pip reverberating into the surrounding infinite. In the presence of such mesmerising and otherworldly movement, the composers seem at home – energy slurps in from nowhere, and plosive fissures occur without the need for any explicit source, showering the black canvas (which sometimes resembles lightless, oceanic depths) with hollow streams of soft noise and alien sonar.

Things turn terrifying in the second half, commencing with Francisco Lopez conducting Paul Prudence’s bubble membranes and mercury streams in “Hydro Acoustic Study”. There’s a stretch around the halfway mark where a pendulum of crushed static sends a jelly circle into shape-shifting alternations, gifted shape by the phantom light that radiates its intricate, fluid contours – it’s an unnerving whirlpool that tilts and mutates under erratic and slippery sonic instruction, rife with glimmer and inward reflection. Meanwhile, “Memory Vapor” (Domnitch and Gelfand on visuals, Tietchens on sound) brings an otherwise imperceptible cloud chamber into a slow-motion glow stick precipitation, illuminated through contrail streams of vibrant green and pink – the soundtrack captures both the fluidity of movement and the visual’s micro-particle construct, moving in gargantuan dynamic surges comprised of thousands of internal pulses.

While I do not share such a perspective, one of the common “criticisms” of sound art I have encountered is that it burrows too deeply into itself – it is “sound about sound”, a snake eating its own tail – and thus drifts outside the realm of human contact, too abstract to push the buttons of emotional response. With Liquified Sky, the world itself becomes hauled into this state of logical introversion and self-reliance; sound art becomes as real as the chair on which I sit, and while its bizarre texture and movement feel fictitious and unrelatable, one soon begins to understand that the corporeal world operates on a similar foundation of chaos and mystery, paradoxically rendering sensory experience as the only certain truth.