Three compositions by Michael Pisaro for piano, piano & tape, and for 4 or more players (here with 14) as performed by pianist Philip Thomas, and with Sarah Hughs and members of the Edges Ensemble.
Pisaro, Michael: 3 compositions played by Philip Thomas & others
Fields Have Ears
Label: Another Timbre
Released in: Great Britain
"fields have ears 1", for piano (Philip Thomas) and tape is disarmingly simple, its subtlety and depth yielding to this listener only after repeated listens and absorption. There's the tape, very rich (not sure if there's more than one layered in), with bird and insect sounds up top, moving air in the middle and a heady, deep thrum beneath, redolent of distant highways or miles high airplanes. Between these sounds, the piano appears at intervals, the chords fairly bright sometimes, tinged with doubt or melancholy others, spaced irregularly, dabs of relatively vivid color against the complex welter of the soundscape. It's the spacing and shift in dynamics of the piano that's so winning, even heartbreaking at times, very much like a lone hiker's thoughts, questioning and intensely personal, radiated into the forest for lack of someone else to listen.
"fade", for piano (again, Thomas) dates from 2000. The music is a series of single notes, each slice the same note repeated (I think) between five and ten times, generally (not always) fading during the sequence, the notes ranging across the keyboard. At first, each segment floats alone, suspended between ample and varying lengths of silence but soon there's a wave where two or three exist simultaneously, not heard as "chords" (at least by me) but superimposed one-note patterns. That shift of larger forms, which occurs throughout, in a cycle of a few minutes, coexists wonderfully with the jewel-like effect of the individual series. It's very calm, very surface-of-water-like, with slight shimmers that gather in a kind of natural manner, almost random but somehow purposeful. Like something from Feldman's even more serene cousin.
Finally, "fields have ears 4", for four or more players, here by the Edges Ensemble plus Thomas, Patrick Farmer (natural objects), Sarah Hughes (zither) and Dominic Lash (double bass). It's extremely difficult not to envision a door being gently opened and closed, allowing one to momentarily hear this quiet flurry of activity, then not. These small bubbles of sound, emerge and quickly recede, like smoke signals. These musical puffs are delicate, the piano heard among the fluttering instruments in a semi-similar regard as it was in "fields have ears 1", single chords wafting through the lovely fog. Really a stunning piece of work, a new favorite of mine among Pisaro's increasingly impressive recorded catalog. A great release."-Brian Olewnick, Just Outside
At The Squid's Ear!
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Piano & Keyboards
lowercase, micro-improv, sound improv
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London & UK Free Improvisation Scene
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Label: Another Timbre
Catalog ID: at37
Squidco Product Code: 14018
Country: Great Britain
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded at the University of Huddersfield by Simon Reynell. Track one recorded on April 24th, 2010. Track two recorded on May 17th, 2010. Track three recorded on September 10th, 2010.
Patrick Farmer-natural objects
Dominic Lash-double bass
Stephen Chase-conical blow horn
Richard Glover-slide whistle
Johnny Herbert-spring drum
Liz Nicholas-frog guero
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1. Fields Have Ears 1 20:27
2. Fade 20:36
3. Fields Have Ears 4 27:46