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Michael Pisaro: Resting in a Fold of the Fog

John Eyles By

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The popularity of Michael Pisaro is ongoing; the composer and guitarist now averages an impressive four releases a year, not all on Editions Wandelweiser, as was once the case, but across a variety of labels including his own Gravity Wave, and Erstwhile. Potlatch is a recent addition to the fold; this release is the second on the label to feature music composed by Michel Pisaro, following 2015's Melody, Silence (For Solo Guitar) by Chilean guitarist Cristián Alvear.

Resting in a Fold of the Fog also joins a select subset of Pisaro releases in that it features him as performer as well as composer. It was recorded over two days in May 2016, at Césaré (Centre National de Création Musicale), Reims, France, by the trio of Pisaro on laptop rather than guitar, Didier Aschour on electric guitar and Stéphane Garin on percussion. The music consists of two contrasting compositions, the 20-minute "Grounded Cloud," inspired by a poem from Chinese-born poet Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, which was premiered in Los Angeles in November 2015, and the previously unreleased 25-minute "Hearing Metal 4 (Bird in Space)," composed in 2010-11, the last of Pisaro's Hearing Metal series. As is typical of Pisaro compositions, and albums too, both pieces carry titles which conjure up visual images appropriate to the music.

The instrumentation on "Grounded Cloud" consists of electronic sounds—"cloud like" collections of filtered noise—from Pisaro's laptop, amplified bass drum with rice vibrating on the surface, and sparing use of electric guitar. With instrumental sounds punctuated by occasional silences, the music creates an eerie atmosphere that fits its title (and the album's), and it is not difficult to imagine it accompanying footage of low drifting broken cloud. As so often with Pisaro compositions, it makes compelling listening and cries out to be heard again as soon as it ends.

For those familiar with past Hearing Metal releases—the most recent being Hearing Metal 3 (Gravity Wave, 2011) by the duo of Pisaro and Greg Stuart—the good news is that "Hearing Metal 4 (Bird in Space)" has the characteristic strengths of its predecessors and feels entirely compatible with their sounds and moods. Their pulsing metallic tones open the new piece, again fitting its title perfectly. Lacking the silences of "Grounded Cloud,"' the piece's unworldly sounds are compelling enough to be enthralling and mesmerizing for the whole of its 25-minute duration—in fact, the longer it goes on, the better it sounds. Taken as a whole, this album is a triumph for all concerned.




Track Listing: Grounded Cloud / 2015-16; Hearing Metal 4 (Birds in Space) / 2010-11.

Personnel: Michael Pisaro: composition, laptop; Didier Aschour: electric guitar; Stéphane Garin : percussion.

Title: Resting in a Fold of the Fog | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Potlatch Records


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