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mp3 extracts from engraved glass releases

Sunday, February 21, 2010

2 new releases: Michael Pisaro / Greg Stuart - 'July Mountain' & Anne Guthrie - 'standing sitting'

*sold out*

. Michael Pisaro / Greg Stuart - 'July mountain'

. point engraved edition eg.p05

. limited edition 3inch cdr mounted on art card

'July mountain' for Greg Stuart & Jez riley French:

---- Field recordings made by Michael Pisaro in the Santa Susanna and San Gabriel Mountains, Placerita Canyon, Santa Clarita, Topanga, Val Verde, Los Angeles, Marina del Rey, and Santa Monica, 2006-2009.
---- Percussion recorded by Greg Stuart in Columbia, South Carolina, 12/09-01/10.

.---- pdf download of the score can be found here

. this remarkable composition combining 20 mono field recordings & 84 percussion parts is a significant addition not only to Michael's catalogue of works but also to the deeply fascinating exploration of scoring for field recordings.

below is a photograph by Michael taken during one of the field recording trips & a photograph by Greg of the woodblock used during the recording of some of the percussion parts:

review from Richard Pinnell on 'the watchful ear' can be found here
extract: 'That the music that forms July Mountain is really very beautiful will be no surprise to anyone that has heard Pisaro’s compositions before....Fantastic work'
review from Brian Olewnick:
Not that it's so important, but I don't think I've ever experienced 21 minutes passing so quickly. The first several times I listened to "July Mountain", I was afraid there had been a disc defect and it had somehow skipped ahead; it felt as though about ten minutes had elapsed. That's only one amazing aspect of this recording. Another rather subsidiary one comes into play when one sees the score and realizes not only how densely packed and thought through this piece is but how it still manages to feel light and air-permeated. But these are sideline things next to, simply, how it sounds, which is extraordinary, mysterious, life-abundant. Twenty phased field recordings done in mountain or valley areas mix with ten percussion extracts (performed superbly by Greg Stuart) sourced from specific instrumental orientations covering an enormous range of timbre and pitch, all sequenced in a temporally exact manner (i.e., piano chord entering at 8:00). Again, as fascinating as it is to know this, the great joy is simply in lying back and letting "July Mountain" cascade over you. The sounds begin quietly with birds, wind, the low throb of an airplane engine, etc. and gradually mass into an onrush that remains strangely delicate for all its force. The piano, children's voices, sine tones, light metallic clatter and much more begin to funnel into an ever widening vortex that absolutely sucks you in while always providing oxygen. It's as if you're sitting on the mountain or in that valley having had your ears hyper-sensitized so they were picking up every sound within miles and, more, making a kind of sense of them, collating them into a semi-recognizable pattern. A great, great work, one I can easily see listening to for many years to come.
Jesse Goin has also written a very nice review which can be found here
also a nice write up by Yuko Zama can be found here

‘July Mountain’ in Tokyo

During my 2-week stay in Tokyo this May, I visited the Sound Cafe Dzumi in Kichijoji to see the owner and some of my music writer friends. The owner of the cafe was a former recording engineer and art film producer, and he has installed a great audio/speaker system there. This cafe is a nice gathering place for the Tokyo music community, where front-line music critics/writers and hard-core fans of experimental music (and also jazz fans) can get together. Occasionally, musicians like Otomo Yoshihide, Toshimaru Nakamura, Tetuzi Akiyama and Ami Yoshida present some small concerts here, too. Since the cafe owner and my writer friends were curious about Michael Pisaro's music after reading my writings online, I brought some of the Pisaro CDs and played 'July Mountain', 'A wave and waves' and 'voyelles' (from the side B of the cassette tape) on this incredible stereo.

Everyone in the audience at the cafe - including some regular customers who happened to be there - loved Pisaro’s music that I played, even though they were not normally contemporary classical music fans. We also listened to some other LP/CDs like some recent jazz, improvisation, old ECM stuff on customers' requests, but in the end before the cafe was closed, every one of them asked the owner to play ‘July Mountain’ again, since the music had captured their minds so deeply.

A few days later, one of the music writers who was there wrote a review of ‘July Mountain’ for a Japanese music website (Jazz Tokyo), so I translated it to English to put here with his permission.

I have the impression that there is something in Michael Pisaro’s music that seems to be naturally received among Japanese listeners, who are living ‘in’ the experiences of various textures of silences and the sounds of nature in their daily lives.

- Yuko Zama (5/29/10)



‘July Mountain’ for field recording & percussion / Michael Pisaro, Greg Stuart (engraved glass p05) 2010

- Review by Masanori Tada

A limited release of 50 copies from a British contemporary classical music label. With a beautiful cover, I was told that this is a composition of percussion sounds and 20 field recordings, but the actual listening experience is something beyond the description.

I love to listen to the murmurs of the wind in the trees, the sound of rain, various sounds that occur when I ride a bicycle with my kids, while paying attentions to the perspective and the movement of each sound. This might be something similar to field recordings, but the difference between those sounds I hear and that music must lie in the composer's presence as an intermediary - who incorporates his clear aesthetics, thoughts and ideas into the materials of the recordings - prayerfully.

I saw Yuko Zama of the Erstwhile label again after ten years. When I heard her voice, I felt like I was time-tripped to ten years ago when I had a music talk with her for Out There magazine. I explained to her that my taste for music has changed after hearing Michel Doneda playing outdoor - towards the music that evokes in me environmental sounds like temple bells or the sounds of nature like murmurs of the wind in the trees - which are not really the sounds of nature but contain the similar feels and waves. I seldom listen to current improvised music these days. When I told her so, she said that a similar mindset can be found in some of composer Michael Pisaro's work. Then she played some music of Michael Pisaro at the Sound Cafe Dzumi in Kichijoji, so I had a chance to listen to his music for the first time.

This was like a sound drug - the customers who were there at the cafe including a young lady who loves noise music, a contemporary jazz fan, an artist, a recording engineer - all of them looked like they were straying away from their normal listening path to enter a new world. The cafe owner was so excited that he brought a LP of the Italian ambient music by Giancarlo Toniutti and said that he had a similar experience of discovering something completely new to him when he encountered this LP.

I cannot tell the exact differences of field recordings, noise music and ambient music in general, but I can tell that this "July Mountain" is definitely the most powerful music you can experience. You can read the more detailed story about Michael Pisaro in Yuko Zama's blog. It just feels great to listen to this CD. With the music, I can also hear the sounds of Cessna planes flying over the panoramic view of this residential neighborhood in the suburbs of Tokyo, the chirps of birds, and even the sound of the sun. If Michael Pisaro ever has a chance to visit Kyoto, I can imagine that he would make fantastic recordings of everything there - from the calm chatter of the Kamo River while sitting on the embankment, the sounds of the temple bells, the sounds of Gozan-no-Okuribi, to the sounds of a small restaurant in Kyoto.

Listening to this music carefully with my headphones is also a great experience. Don't take this the wrong way, but it sounds really musical. The inserted piano sounds have even a little feeling of pop music. There are many works of ambient music in the world - that might be freer from the intermediacy of musicians. But this incredible sense of exaltation in the music of ‘July Mountain’ - that is almost enchanting - must derive from the unmatched artistic creativity of the composer Michael Pisaro, who has a splendid awareness in seeing the beauty of the world.

- Review from Radio Tagara on Jazz Tokyo by Masanori Tada (born in 1961: music writer/co-organizer of Japanese music website "musicircus")

Anne Guthrie - 'standing sitting'

Anne Guthrie - TrainDCtoNYApril2008 (mp3 extract)

. point engraved edition eg.p04

. Limited edition full sized Taiyo Yuden cdr mounted on art card.

1) Beacon NY

2) Union station, Washington DC

3) Train from Washington DC to Penn station NYC

. 'standing sitting' presents 3 extended compositions for subtly treated field recordings of an art space, a train station & a train journey. Anne's work with field recordings shows a simple, yet richly evocative grasp of the nature of the spaces we inhabit & I am very pleased to be releasing these pieces on Anne's first solo edition.

to order the cd version please see the first post on this website

also available as a digital download:

review by Richard Pinnell (the watchful ear):The CDr is released on Jez riley French’s Engraved Glass label as part of the .point engraved series of short run releases. This one came out recently alongside a 3″ disc by Michael Pisaro and Greg Stuart that is extremely good.
There are three tracks here, totaling more than forty-five minutes in length. Each of the tracks is made up from subtly treated field recordings, one each made at an art space in New York, Union Station in Washington DC and during a train journey from DC to New York. I’m not certain how the recordings have been treated, but the tracks that we hear all have that submerged, blurry feel to them, a grey coloured patina of haziness through which little details peak through. The first nine minute long piece, named Beacon, NY uses material gathered at the DIA arts space in Beacon NY. Much of what we hear on this piece feels like the resonant echoes through long corridors or big empty rooms, air con humming in the background, unidentifiable bangs and thuds somewhere in one of the far corners of the building, snippets of human conversation along the corridor and occasional footsteps on hard floors heard breaking through. Everything is soft, presented at low volume with the harsh edges seemingly rounded off. The treatment of the recordings seems to be just to push all of the sounds together into one aural space, giving us a grey mass of vague detail that suggests a mood and a place without ever clarifying anything fully.
The source sounds for the second piece, Union Station, Washington DC are obvious, and here Guthrie’s music reminds me most of the late night city, though clearly what we actually hear is a combination of roaring mechanical and industrial sounding engines, all muted slightly with the hustle and bustle of human activity in a busy, enclosed public space blended in throughout. Again nothing is crystal clear and what we have is a kind of impressionistic take on field recording presentation that almost sounds better if allowed to just exist gently in the room rather than studied up close. The final piece Train from Washington DC to Penn Station, NYC uses a similar technique, the sounds we hear vaguely reminiscent of train sounds, the experience of a long railway journey present in the music. Yet with the exception of a moment where onboard announcements break through with more clarity than usual, again the sounds hint at an overall sensation of place and time rather than referencing anything obviously.
Guthrie seems to play with mood here rather than dramatic structure or dynamic playfulness. There are none of the sudden cuts or momentary contrasts that seem to be commonplace in a lot of field recording arrangement these days. The shape and form of the music is mostly flat and seemingly dull, but the lovely power of this great music comes from the subtle suggestions that it exudes, feelings of inexplicable familiarity, sounds that tap into something we unconsciously think we have heard before, in my case the aural picture from a city centre hotel room, perhaps something different for others. As someone that finds the sound of large public spaces, railway stations, airport waiting lounges, art galleries to be thoroughly beautiful in themselves, the way Standing sitting reflects these situations really works for me anyway, capturing the essence of a space without pinning it down to any particular time. For me this is beautiful music, a modern day portrait of a set of very modern landscapes, reflecting the ugliness of busy 21st Century life in a hazy mirror that blurs the harshness of it all, pushing it just far enough out of reach. A really nice album.

review from Brian Olewnick:
As beautiful as Pisaro's release is, please don't ignore this lovely one from Anne Guthrie. I'd only known her work in association with musicians like Richard Kamerman and Billy Gomberg where she generally wields a french horn. Here we have three processed field recordings, one recorded in DIA Beacon, the other two from a train station and aboard a train. Not so dissimilarly from work Pisaro has done before, Guthrie interweaves sine tones (or something akin; I'm not quite sure) with the recordings, creating a dreamy between-world of the real and the shimmering. The DIA piece resonates with the kind of disembodied, space-molded voices and sounds one encounters in large interiors like those found in that converted factory, here underlain with hums that, in this case, recall the sound installation on DIA's rooftop by the late Max Neuhaus. The sine tones seem to have been applied intuitively, Guthrie allowing the field recordings to sit by themselves for a while, to establish a presence (very beautifully), then to be accompanied. It's difficult to describe why this works so well except to accede to the composer's ear and the choices she makes, but the impression, again, is of being hyper-aware, of a space and, too, picking up subliminal frequencies normally outside the range of hearing, these tones enhancing the overt sounds and imparting an air of wonder. Very impressive work.
from 'the wire' (july 2010 issue) review by Jim Haynes:
'An album of processed field recordings from specific locations, Standing sitting emphasises the sonic residues of architectural spaces. Filtered tones from the resonance of various pipes & conduits, the vibrations of electrical motors and the broad echo of cavernous halls all feature prominently in the sounds that Anne Guthrie chooses to work into composition. Many of the edges of her sounds have been blurred and smoothed, offering a soft focus quality, in particular to those sounds culled from the DIA centre in Beacon, NYC. Like the DIA centre, Guthrie's other subjects touch on the grandeur of massive architectural forms - Penn Station in NYC and Union Station in Washington DC. She's wise in her slow pace and deliberate injunctions of environmental hiss and subharmonic rattlings, which are only occasionally punctuated by a human presence. Certainly, on the strength of this recording, Guthrie's a composer to watch for in the near future'