(released January 12, 2013)
The Punishment Of The Tribe By Its Elders (2012)
to Jon Abbey
Michael Pisaro: guitar, bass, percussion, radio, electronics, recording, mixing
mastered by Joe Panzner
cover photo by Michael Pisaro
design by Yuko Zama
Pisaro's fascinating composition created with guitar, bass, percussion, radio, electronics, and field recordings, using long gaps of silence resolved through a dynamic set of rich audio sections. - Squidco
Brian Olewnick, Just Outside
This one is a kind of bifurcated creature. It opens with sets of sine tones buried a mile or two below the surface of the earth. It pulses gently, for a while with surprising regularity, pushing its way toward air, breaking ground in an urban setting, the sound of a classroom down the hall, the laughter of teenagers. The scene shifts, a young girl comments, "It looks like we're in Texas." though in fact, she's in Austria. All of this, even the ghostly laughter, is very somber. Weather occurs, rain and thunder, with a light bell chiming beneath, a faint antecedent of sounds yet to come. The bell sounds more brightly, inevitably imparting a ritual sense, a ragged gong is struck, the bell begins to split, amoeba-like, its shards morphing into sines (this is a very beautiful passage).
Roland Barthes, or someone reading him, talks about power relationships being present in all areas, not just the political ("mon nom est Legion") including the arts, and how the object of the use of that power is made to feel guilt. Serene guitar (Pisaro) ensues, contemplative, with a slightly sour tinge; given what follows and the nature of the Barthes quotes, one is tempted to hear this passage as a kind of sacrificial lamb to the forces of the adolescent, innately misogynist power chords of rock, here sampled from the Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath (I think. I did have fun imagining Pisaro flailing away at his axe...). When they arrive--and it's quite a shock, the volume and incongruity--they possess that swagger, the eight-second chords relentlessly surging, annihilating everything in their path, a hollow, pounding beat buttressing them from beneath. It's exciting at the same time as being disturbing, the way one almost automatically reacts to such strength in rock and then (perhaps, hopefully) questions the nature of one's reaction. Pisaro takes over once again, hear in a more Loren Connors mode, the machismo having been drained somewhat, the melancholy remaining.
The work closes with a complex series of low hums, sines and, I suspect, much else, a compressed clay of sound, a taffy-like conglomerate baring rueful overtones. including echoes of the guitar strutting as if to say, "These things aren't easily shaken off".
This and the above release were conceived of as a pair of sorts, an opposite pair--Pisaro likens them to dark and light branches on the same tree--and that feeling comes through. Both are powerful works, though that power doesn't dominate, but seeps in and merely awaits recognition. Very highly recommended, both.