Review: Aloïs Yang – MLMC Live At Punctum

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The visual simplicity of Aloïs Yang’s Micro Loop Macro Cycle installation is, in fact, an introductory provocation to a billion different questions and consequences. The piece consists of a block of ice suspended in the air by rope, dripping intermittently into a glass bowl on the floor below. This simple process instigates a sonic feedback loop: the sound of the drop is amplified through a multi-channel sound system, which in turn is received by two microphones whose positions are dictated by the movement and angle of the ice block, and then played into the vessel via an underwater speaker. This feedback circuit is an audible rendering of the complexity of our entire microscopic universe. Every event can be exploded into its constituent collisions and loops, although there’s power in Yang’s decision to focus on water; given its elemental simplicity on one hand, contrasted with its embedded nature within all manner of environmental, biological and social networks.

This record pulls together four iterations of the MLMC setup: one concert edit from Yang’s performance at Punctum in Prague, two studio takes and a final version recorded at Spatial Sound Institute in Budapest. Yang allegedly took his lead from the setup when making his performance interventions, listening to how the space communicated with itself before inserting his influence accordingly, less an external disruptive force and more an additional responsive element within the system of interconnectivity. He is a nudge; like an additional 2 degrees Celsius, or a slight drop in humidity. Beautifully, one can hear the entire macro/micro spectrum at once: the overt splash of water on one end (occasionally squiggling into different pitches and rhythms by Yang’s bespoke software), all the way through to the creeping, cyclically-generated hums of feedback on the other. Drips emerge to the left and right, ricocheting back and forth, emulating the subtler acoustic reflections that bounce against the walls and gently shape the sound. There are pockets of eternal repeat; large-scale cycles of re-trodden now; consequences of innumerable speeds and magnitudes. Be sure to listen again – you definitely missed something last time.