MICHAEL PISARO / TOSHIYA TSUNODA – Crosshatches

Erstwhile

Crosshatches is the result of a 14-month long distance collaboration between artists whose respective worlds appeared reasonably far to this reviewer until now. An 85-minute, 8-track double CD that conjures up deepness by suggesting critical concepts through the sheer clout of the sounds that it contains, even though it’s not a “concept album” under any aspect.

The record’s fundamental nature lies in the closeness of field recordings and sine tones, infrequently complemented by piano and guitar. Speaking of which, and immediately getting rid of the chaff, the momentum-destroying plucked notes appearing at the closing stages of an otherwise imposing massive accretion of low frequencies in the opening movement represent the only disappointment of the entire set.

What was perceived since the very beginning is the accurate development of the compositional structures: a scrupulous exactitude that definitely adds impact to the project. A further point of attraction is constituted by the nonexistence of confounding theories and speculations. Great choice: sounds looking after themselves is exactly what is needed.

The intelligibility / vagueness ratio of the field recordings changes across the chapters, an extremely captivating trait. The “veil” that partially masks certain echoes from unspecified places elicits a measure of aural distrust, as one’s not sure – at least initially – of hearing, say, the whooshed roar of a distant sea or a cloth rubbed against a microphone. In the second track, looping is applied on the screaming and laughing voices of children at play, adding a slightly repetitive quality to the palette. The merging of real scenes and sine waves is well exercised throughout, the transitions from a sonic substance to another occurring with a considerable degree of naturalness.

There are discrepancies in how the music is received according to the type of listening session. By moving ourselves right in front of the speakers we noticed key details that, from afar, were mostly lost in favour of a somewhat blurred “presence” which didn’t differ from lots of other works conceived on comparable premises. In that case, contingent external intrusions tend to contaminate the music’s quintessence. If it is true that a room enhances resonance, the best approach to understand the value of Crosshatches is enjoying it via headphones and without pauses. You’ll realize about indispensable subtleties furnishing the whole with unspoken meanings, pushing it beyond the mere status of collage/assemblage. There’s always a human element struggling to be caught by our ears amidst a droning mass. There’s always a weak tweet by some lonely bird trying to resist the advance of a wall of deafening noise somewhere. These juxtapositions are plain thrilling in most cases, the pinnacle being a remarkable piece of sorrowful motionlessness towards the end dyed by a tolling piano note, indecipherable stratifications and practically inaudible glimpses of “something” underneath the mix’s surface.

The authority of the artificial emanations ultimately prevails in terms of consequence on the neural / psychical system, restoring a stasis of the imagination where the concrete events could lead to a modicum of loss of focus. Think of this: on my first headphone sitting I fell asleep several times, and each time it was the might of the humming waves – not the intensity of the pictures, not the alterations of the scenarios – that abruptly woke me up, in cold sweat.

No matter how the mind tries to clutch at straws: an actuality of dullness and threat remains stronger, often causing people’s inner valves to burn out little by little. The ultimate sensation conveyed by this work is this: whatever the natural beauty or the compelling evocation of a given sound, everything can cease at any moment because of an inexorableness that we cannot wrestle.

Be it the crumbling earth, a rainstorm or a scrubber on wood, if beings react with dramatic emotional signals to an arresting acoustic combination it means that they’re still alive. For all the rest, we’re probably not primed yet.

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