CD Reviews

Michael Pisaro realised by Joe Panzner, Greg Stuart – White Metal

November 26, 2014

CD Makam This is the second realisation of Michael Pisaro’s White Metal to be released this year, and the second I have reviewed here. It is inevitable I guess that on the rare occasions that a contemporary score has two realisations released in a short period of time that reviewers like myself will draw comparisons […]

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Vinyl Reviews

Michael Pisaro, Miguel Prado – White Metal

May 3, 2014

Vinyl Senufo Editions White Metal is a new composition written by Michael Pisaro and performed by the Waldelweiser composer along with the Spanish musician Miguel Prado. The piece is the second in a series of works titled the Grey Series, which are written with the intention of being realised using noteless, white noise oriented textures, […]

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CD Reviews

Michael Pisaro, Taku Sugimoto – D minor / Bb major

October 23, 2012

Slubmusic CD This new release, a collaborative composition by Michael Pisaro and Taku Sugimoto, both guitarists and composers with a history of producing quiet music behind them, is unlike their first collaboration from last year in that rather than being a duo work it contains a recording of a single forty-eight minute long realisation of […]

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My Favourite Album

My Favourite Album by Michael Pisaro

September 9, 2012

Bach: the Goldberg Variations, played by Glenn Gould (1955) I imagine most of us hear our favorite albums when we are young. Our introduction to the constellation of musical worlds is usually through a single point, which nonetheless sketches the whole state of the impossibly rich and daunting (musical) universe for us. My “favourite” album […]

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CD Reviews

Friday 9th April

April 9, 2010

Californian composer Michael Pisaro’s music has long been a favourite of mine, and so just recently its been great to see his work garner a lot of positive attention, none more so than Yuko Zama’s remarkably in depth explorations of his recent music as can be read here. Given all that she and others have written about the recent 3″ disc July Mountain released in a small edition, and by now I imagine out of print on the Engraved Glass label I struggle to wonder what I might add. The fact that Michael, alongside his collaborator on this release Greg Stuart has a full length disc ready for release on my Cathnor label just make sit even more difficult for me.

That the music that forms July Mountain is really very beautiful will be no surprise to anyone that has heard Pisaro’s compositions before, so in many ways I can move on from that fact and perhaps try and work out why. The piece is a twenty-one minute composition for field recordings and percussion, but as with all of Pisaro’s work the score in itself is a work of art, a carefully arranged set of timed placements of the various elements, meticulously plotted over several pages of charts and finely detailed instruction. It also helps that Greg Stuart, the percussionist and close collaborator of Pisaro is extremely talented and very much in tune with the composer’s ways of working. The score for July Mountain can be downloaded here, and I encourage you to study it carefully so I won’t list everything it includes again. There are twenty field recordings spread methodically through the piece though, with ten of them sounding at any one time and their appearance and disappearance staggered, so as one ends another begins. The recordings are all to have been made in mountain or valley areas, and we hear birds twittering, cars and aircraft passing, distant voices chattering, the wind etc… Alongside this there are 143 separate recordings of persussion sounds divided into ten different groups of classification ranging from brushed drum sounds to falling rice grains to sinetones projected onto resonant surfaces and then recorded, through to a standard piano. Each of these sounds is placed carefully into the music by Pisaro. Even the piano sounds, which are split into 32 chord strikes, each one recorded separately and then panned through different stereo channels are arranged with precision timing, the first appearing at the eight minute mark, each further one occurring at twenty-two and a half second intervals thereafter.

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CD Reviews

Thursday 4th March

March 5, 2010

Black, white, red, green, blue is a scored work written by Pisaro that is performed by Chabala on electric guitar. The title of the piece comes from a Rimbaud verse in which he seems to liken these five colours to vowels used in language. The significance of this to the final work here is not completely clear, but the music has a simple, elemental feel that reflects these simple building blocks of other artforms. The piece appears to be divided into five parts, one for each colour one would imagine (I have not seen the score). In each of the parts quiet guitar sounds are placed at regular intervals amidst the silence. The sounds are grouped together by their musical shape rather than their pitch. The first section makes use of gentle, ringing guitar notes that chime softly before decaying very slowly into the thick, thick silence. In the next part a faint note rises gradually from the nothingness before falling away again, dissolving into the quiet before the next arrives a few moments later. Other sections see the sounds become firmer and more present, elsewhere longer, the notes extended out into a virtually continuous sound that dips below audible levels only to resurface seconds later.

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CD Reviews

Saturday 8th August

August 8, 2009

Although Barry Chabala’s realisation of Michael Pisaro’s An unrhymed chord composition has just been released on the Confront label as part of the Collector’s Series I have to admit to have been listening to a recording of it quite often over several months. In fact, if I had not already agreed to release a different […]

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CD Reviews

Thursday 16th July

July 17, 2009

It took me all day to listen properly to Decentred again. I did as I said I would last night and put it on to listen to in bed, but of course I promptly fell asleep just minutes into the first track. I’ve listened carefully a few times today now though, and as I type […]

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CD Reviews

Saturday 4th July

July 4, 2009

A break from improvisation today after a bit of an overload recently, I had a lovely day today, walking in the country and sitting in the garden with a sketchpad mainly, and not listening to too much music at all, but when I was listening, it was to composed music, either Schubert’s late chamber works […]

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