The hypnotic double-disc set Works on Paper is the most recent collaboration between Victoria, B.C.-based composer and painter Lance Austin Olsen and Venezuelan composer and artist Gil Sansón. The stark, purposeful, expletive-laced monologue (courtesy of audio engineer and composer Alan F. Jones, who also runs the Marginal Frequency imprint) that is threaded through the opening track—the thirty-six-minute-long Pra Mim #2—provides a surprising textual analogue to the aesthetic worlds of these two very intriguing composers. The longer that one listens to Pra Mim #2, anticipating the eventual return of Jones' deadpan narration, the piecemeal words gradually reveal a hard-boiled intimacy. These wry-but-compassionate, mundane reflections—full of offhand references—are paralleled by the character and construction of the abstract sonic discourse.
In a sense, each disc is a solo endeavour, featuring one artist interpreting the other artist's graphic score twice—both sprawling, intoxicating collages. Despite this clear division of labour, the set is remarkably cohesive, thanks to mutual familiarity and shared auditory perspectives. Olsen and Sansón are commonly placed adjacent to Wandelweiser and fellow low-decibel travellers. While they sometimes probe the threshold of audibility, their interest in the materiality of sound also follows a distinct path—one suggested by the bluntness of the aforementioned text.
Sounds from different sources and of disparate fidelities cozy up to each other, their pacing and form embodying the casual, unhurried spontaneity of one's thoughts. Panoramic field recordings are infested with soft, strange tinkerings. Crumbs of melody drift through the muttering of various objects and instruments, both acoustic and amplified.
This music feels intensely personal, somehow private. The magnified tactility of the sound palette enhances this impression—its minute creaks and whispers seem to unfold within the listener as opposed to emanating from an external source. Even the audible samples of classical music that surface on Meditations #3, or Sansón's own voice as heard on Disc One register as faint recollections.
These four excursions are a particular contribution to the body of work coalescing around the junction of sound art, composition, and free improvisation. Their nonchalant time-feel and coarse sensitivity evoke both the pulse and the kitchen-sink heterogeneity of solitary rumination.