Review: F. Leote – Colagens (Panama Papers, Jan 2)

A particularly unruly gaggle of radios set up for a performance of a Cage piece acquire group-sentience and produce a “composition” of their own in Colagens, a rare new entry in the solo catalog of Portuguese artist and curator Filipe Leote. The music is pristinely rendered in full digital clarity, and yet this still very much feels like something contemporary-in-spirit with the most eclectic of the mail-art titans (indeed, other adventures in the same vein can be found in Gen Ken Montgomery’s recent Unknown Destination). After the brief opening fanfare of “Jingle,” Leote draws us into an enrapturing, narrative collage of everything from detailed car-horn symphonies and dense pseudo-concrète melanges to disaster alarm systems layered alongside irreverent synth-punk and speeches. At the risk of making too many comparisons—though the rich, indiscriminate approach taken here seems to engender such things—“Revolução Industrial” is very Negativland in its deliberate yet abstract pace and blurring of contrast and homogeneity. But, thankfully, that’s not limited to just that track; “Meddley” features even more unholy juxtapositions and a stretch of porno moan speed-switching that would make even Joseph Hammer blush, while “XTC” unfolds like a radio play of a carnivalesque apocalypse, all ominous rushing winds and helicopter blades and maniacal delirium and other assorted bits of chaos. By the end you’ll feel like you’ve walked a thousand miles, but perhaps (probably) only in a circle. Colagens is what we’ll hear when we finally spiral as far down as we can go.