new to stock as of
april 17th, 2013
|human ear music (germany) #hemk 026 cd|
michael pisaro “tombstones” compact disc
- blues fall (6:12)
- fool (4:42)
- new orleans (5:16)
- i didn't say anything (6:45)
- silent cloud (6:15)
- tombstone (3:11)
- a stranger (3:04)
- unmoon (5:40)
- stop (2:44)
- a better way (13:45)
- why? (0:05)
|april 2013 release ; ... very interesting, conceptual release from composer michael pisaro, based around the idea of “sampling” structure & form from pre-existing pop musics ...|
... performed by an ensemble of non-electronic players (with some familiar names :: tashi wada, julia holter, etc.) the music offers a certain impressionistic view that’s pleasurable both as an aesthetic experiment in transmutation ... and as music itself ...
|human ear music press release...|
michael pisaro — tombstones
|following alain badiou, we might say that an entirely secular resurrection occurs when an idea that appears to be dead is taken up with a new impulse, possibly for different ends. the tombstones take tiny fragments of old and not-so-old songs and put them into an experimental music situation, introducing them to a kind of chaos, where the arrangement of the written out material is up for grabs.|
in june of 2009 we took a group of musicians to studio paradiso in san francisco, made on-the-spot arrangements of the songs and recorded them, mostly in one or two takes. i selected performances with this question in mind: did the song happen?
- michael pisaro
this presents an exhilarating challenge in a culture already saturated by hallucination, paradox, and shadowplay. each “tombstone”, as these tracks are called, is literally a “sampled” bit of structure, tuning, lyricism, beat or phrasing; a mystery moment sourced from perhaps, the beatles, dj screw, bob dylan or ugk, to name a few. (the actual sources are a closely guarded secret, but in some cases not hard to guess.)
pisaro distills the archetype of sampling into a fragment of intention, the groundwork of a sound, and ultimately, a cultural techne at once beyond the reach, and at the origin of the act of editing. or in other words, it’s the knowledge-seeker’s paradox in music: while it is not possible to know all there is in creation, it is quite possible to distill the elegant, simple processes at its heart. with this distillation, pisaro attempts to freeze one curious tension after another, in which the voice (or the archetype of the voice) is shaken out of a field of interferences, and made to speak as if in song.
in the band, electronics are conspicuously absent (but not forbidden). two electric guitars (played by grier and pisaro) appear. otherwise, tombstones relies on a rather economical spread of acoustic instruments and percussion, some conventional, some not-so-conventional. the pulsating drones of harmonium (tashi wada, julia holter) and e-bow guitar anchor the field with unwavering strings (cassia streb, laura steenberge, laena myers-ionita) and flute (kelly coats) performed without a hint of vibrato. percussionist rob esler offers a surprising range of naturalistic (sometimes eerily synthesizer-like) performances that aim for halo more than punctuation.
the effect will be familiar to those who frequently listen to like-minded music whose focus is on unmediated experience of the subtlest timbres. however, in tombstones’ zoomed-in context, a double-image is generated: a face in lucidity and a face in suspense. suspended, as it were, between exhilaration and anticipation, vocalists janet kim, julia holter, laura steenberge and lisa tolentino each approach their performances in unique ways.