C. Bissonnette

Pitch, Paper & Foil

Pitch, Paper & Foil has an innocent beginning. It’s a still image, washed in a different, unusual shade of light. It’s not long before an invasive, meandering synth takes hold, spreading its roots above and below. Capable of cutting through anything, the thin synth dissects the atmosphere like a sliver of promising light, slicing through the thick, low clouds that darken the horizon.

The shutter closes, and with it a chapter infused with a soft perfume – the natural scent of organic ambient music – fades away. There’s now a sharper, definitive contrast, and it separates Christopher Bissonnette’s earlier music and that of his more recent output. It has evolved. The airy ambient textures that were once so prevalent have now been sucked into an analogue synthesizer, and these unsettled synths unsteadily pass through ‘Epoch’. In the opener, a barely-contained, heavily electronic frequency cuts through the music, flowing down its modular river. Its movement is at once very fluid and occasionally rocky, caught on a cluster of small stones and slightly eroding against the gritty texture of loose sediment. Flakes of distortion are left to rattle around, scattered across all four points of the compass, giving the tone of the synth a raw, uncensored edge. It’s quite a violent start.

Throughout the record, Bissonnette demonstrates a good deal of parental guidance. Like an unruly teenager, modular synthesizers don’t always want to fall in line and behave. The signal constantly warps, and at first it isn’t dampened in any way. Once the synth settles into its adult skin, it calms down.

The synths begin to glow, like another constellation’s bright cluster of faraway stars.

They’re curved and well-shaped, illuminating the music with a trailing note that’s already a thing of the distant past. Inside the music, there’s a seismic depth, and there’s a sparse, open space deep in its heart, despite a hive of melodic activity. They’re unexplored continents of sound.

‘Keeping Guard’ and ‘Shuttering Slides’ are quieter explorations. This is ambient music, after all. The synth has been tamed here, but it’s also allowed to move freely and go gently. The abrasive edge disappears as it roams its surroundings. On the former, vivid notes occasionally puncture the atmosphere, lighting up the sound with their staccato bursts. On the latter, the atmosphere has cooled and darkened. Pale notes that have been drained of light bubble up to the surface, but they’re hard to see.

In ‘Textbooks of the Elites’, droplets of rain fall into the cool void. A lower bass note provides the stability as it hovers just above sea level. Oh-so-thin, laser-like synths scan the environment, searching for something within the shelter. ‘Dualism’ offers another cool clime, a cave of echoes and glistening crystals that are protected from the raw violence of the sun. The chiming tones surround the listener, filling every available space. At the same time, it’s deeply meditative and as placid as a slow ripple on a silver lake. Electronic music has always had a close, flirtatious relationship with ambient music. Maybe this is where she was supposed to go; her natural progression.

www.christopherbissonnette.ca
www.kranky.net

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