PALACE of MIND2001
John Duncan and Giuliana Stefani
CD with Giuliana Stefani released by Allquestions AQ 01
Dual-fold heavy paper cover
Inside cover photo © Giuliana Stefani
Design and layout by Giuliana Stefani and John Duncan
Rarely has an album title been so evocative of the music it contains, especially in experimental music. A palace conjures up the image of a huge construction with many rooms of wide proportions, high ceilings, echoing halls, and maybe even cavernous undergrounds. Now make it a metaphor of the human mind and you will have an idea of what this CD by John Duncan and Giuliana Stefani can feel like. PALACE of MIND is a continuous 50 minute piece of electronic tones, ethereal drones (wind? voice?), and treated shortwaves. It is structured in a succession of interconnected movements, or chambers. Each room holds its particularities in terms of proportions, resonance, timbre, but one clearly senses they all belong to the same structure. The atmosphere gradually changes as one leaves a room to enter the next, keeping the sound level relatively constant (except for the beginning and end of the piece). The shortwaves and some controlled feedback contradict the feeling of acoustic space, introducing instead the idea of electronic (or neuronic, if we follow the "mind" metaphor) space. The duration of the piece is not excessive, dynamics and new textures abound even though it all remain rather soft-spoken. In short, it makes a great inner journey and deserves the listener's undivided attention. Strongly recommended. PALACE of MIND was released in an edition of 1000 in sober but beautiful embossed paper packaging.
-- François Couture , All Music Guide
John Duncan and Francisco López
Double CD in doublefold digipak cover
Honorable Mention, 2000 Prix Ars Electronica
Released by .absolute. and Allquestions
Double CD by John Duncan and Francisco López, who have worked on sound materials recorded and produced together with the other musician. Duncan's piece, "FLEX", is the more elusive of the two: capturing our thoughts and leading them into a universe made of extremely subtle shades, deep and hidden pulsations, suspended breaths of sound. An organic work, FLEX develops for over an hour, expanding as if it were living material following a strong, determined interior tension. Here Duncan seems to return to the discourse of THE CRACKLING, going even deeper into reflections on invisible forces with extra-human dimensions that regulate the course of existence, a theme confronted in an original way through the creation of strong sonic metaphors: microscopic impulses or immense spaces drawn from broad sounds, with a forceful presence and at the same time full of allusion: reminding us of certain films by Herzog in which the painstaking description of the climbing of a mountain is not only a climb, and the struggle against a river is never only a struggle against a river. The austere structure of FLEX challenges us with a sound that slowly unfolds, assuming diverse forms but always consequential to the others, filling the entire audio spectrum or drifting in an immense emptiness: a flow of lava, overwhelming in its progress and devastating in its calm. The work, fruit of the attention to every slight detail and of extremely worked sound, poses an intriguing challenge to those who like to lose themselves in complex sound structures.
-- Daniela Cascella, Blow Up, September 2001