by Rafael González
On March 14th Pentiments label (http://pentiments.org/) is releasing The Viral Tempest by Joseph Nechvatal, a double vinyl LP, which will also be available in digital format on the label's Bandcamp page (https://pentiments.bandcamp.com/)
There are two suites, each of them occupying one of the discs of the edition. The audio on the first disk is made in collaboration with Andrew Deutsch: OrlandO et la tempête viral symphOny redux suite. It uses an anonymous reading of Virginia Woolf's Orlando as a type of sonic signature that a virus-modeled artificial life audio material (adjusted from the first movement of 2006 viral symphOny: the enthroning) reanimates. The second piece, pour finir avec le jugement de dieu viral symphOny plague, serves as a brother suite to the first and instead uses Antonin Artaud's recorded performance of his radio play To Have Done with the Judgement of God.
I have been able to listen to the work before its official release and I found it to be a fascinating and very compact work throughout, both sonically and visually. As previously mentioned, the pieces are based on voices (the reading of Virginia Woolf's novel Orlando and Artaud's radio performance), which are manipulated, cut and infected by the virus software and enveloped by electronic noise, sometimes very beautiful and quiet and other times like a real plague that advances, spreads and explodes. All of this is wrapped in a beautiful visual work or perhaps it is more correct to say that the audio is what surrounds Joseph Nechvatal's paintings. In fact Joseph Nechvatal held in 2020 an exhibition of his paintings at the Parisian art gallery Richard entitled Orlando et la tempête, whose catalog is included in this recording edition.
Since I started listening to these pieces, the drawings of neurons and the nervous system by the doctor and scientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal have come to mind, which are also of great beauty. The Viral Tempest has made my neurons send chemical and electrical signals of pleasure.