Monday, July 27, 2015

Forthcoming, 2015/16 (Pisaro projects including releases from other labels)

Detail from Cy Twombly's "The fire that consumes all before it" (FIFTY DAYS AT ILLIUM)

It has been quite a while since this blog has been updated, so we thought it might be nice to provide an overview of the releases I’m working on, until the end of 2016.

A mist is a collection of points (New World Records), October 2015


A three movement, hour long trio for piano, percussion and sine tones, composed in 2014/2015 and premiered by Phillip Bush, Greg Stuart and myself at the Columbia Museum of Art (South Carolina) in February, 2015.  It was recorded in Columbia at the University of South Carolina School of Music, shortly thereafter (with Jeff Francis, engineer and Joe Panzner, mastering engineer).

Here’s a text I wrote about the piece:

A mist is a collection of points – but every mist has a context. There are the individual droplets, but then there are the forces that hold them in suspension and with enough proximity that we recognize coherence. Inside the mist there might be places where it seems to disappear altogether, where it becomes atomized and separate, even though, from a distance away one is still in the midst (of the mist). There might also be places where the mist becomes so dense that is more like a wall. We live in a kind of mist as well, in a world where there is neither absolute clarity nor absolute opacity. There are only degrees or intensities of these.

This is the situation that I hoped, with the help of Greg Stuart and Phillip Bush, to create, in various ways in this piece. Each of the three parts presents a distinct kind of mist and each part has one moment of change or temporary clarity, where the mist either disappears (Part I), reappears (Part II) or changes character (Part III). (Sometimes it occurs to the mist that it has no foundation.) The constitution of each mist state is a different music, but there is (musically speaking) also a kind of continuity from one state to the next, as if one had come back to the same location, but one hour (or one day) later.


Phillip Bush, Michael Pisaro and Greg Stuart at the "Mist" sessions.


Duo with Christian Wolff (erstwhile), March 2016


In November of last year, while I was teaching at Harvard University for the Fall Semester, I invited Christian Wolff (who studied and taught Classics and Comparative Literature at Harvard from the early 50’s to the early 70’s) for a short residency. We took advantage of his visit to record in historic Paine Hall, with Christian on prepared piano and me on electric guitar. Christian’s playing is really impressive, radical in structure (like many of his recently composed pieces), but evoking some ghosts from his musical past, that must surely still haunt Cambridge. The disc will consist of two pieces of 28’10” each.


A glimpse of Christian's piano preparations for the Harvard session.


Piano (performed by Reinier van Houdt) (ErstClass) September, 2016


In May/June the amazing Rotterdam-based pianist Reinier van Houdt came to Los Angeles and we spent two weeks recording material for a 3-disc retrospective of my music for solo piano.

The oldest piece recorded was Akasa, for a mixture of piano harmonics and normal playing, written in 1994. The most recent work is Green Hour, Grey Future, a 73-minute piece for piano and electronics written for Reinier in 2014/15. (This will be the entire third CD of the set.) Also included in the set will be fade (2000), the earth, the sky (2005/6), fields have ears (2) (2008/9), Les Jours, Mon Aubépine (2012) and several shorter pieces. We explored a huge range of recording techniques in the making of the set, in line with the works recorded and with experiments Reinier has carried out in his own practice over the past 30 years.

Reinier van Houdt with a local field recordist (Valencia, CA)




Gravity Wave 014 and 015, early 2017


Detail from Étant donnés (Marcel Duchamp)

Gravity Wave is taking a break this year, after the release of the 3-disc Continuum Unbound in November of 2014. But we will be back with two new releases in early 2017. Both pieces are dedicated to masterworks I encountered for the first time on a single trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in January of 2013.

Étant donnés (GW 014) is formulated as a response t0 Marcel Duchamp’s work of the same name (his final, long secret and still controversial installation). The music will consist almost entirely of dimly perceived “found objects” heard from a distance.

Shades of Eternal Night (GW 015) takes its title from one of the paintings of Cy Twombly’s symbolic re-telling of The Iliad in his FIFTY DAYS AT ILLIUM.  The backbone of this piece is a series of darkly figurative chords which Reinier van Houdt recorded (from a sketch I gave him) during the ErstClass sessions.

"Shades of Eternal Night" from FIFTY DAYS AT ILLIUM