“Resting in a Fold of the Fog” compiles recordings of two pieces of music by Michael Pisaro, performed in Reims by the composer on laptop and Dedalus Ensemble members Didier Aschour on electric guitar and Stéphane Garin on percussion. ‘Hearing Metal 4 (Birds in Space)’ is part of a series of works that, according to Pisaro, “attempt to enter into the space of one or more instruments, and then to expand that space, to hear an inner geography of the range of sounds chosen”. This is accompanied by a newer composition called ‘Grounded Cloud’, continuing the references to fog, mist, and cloud that have appeared in much of Pisaro’s recent music.
Fog first. ‘Grounded Cloud’ begins with silence; after a while, small taps and thumps begin to be heard. A quiet, high-pitched tone sounds, followed by an answering low-pitched one. More intermittent taps and tones. Here audibility is reduced to a minimum, occasional shapes poking out of the silence. At the same time, silence is what is audible, in the same way that fog both hides a landscape and becomes what it hides. Ringing, shifting, humming, plinking, rustling. Gradually the sounds get louder, more present, though not really going much further than mezzo forte. A sweeping noise, and a soft buzzing. I get the impression that this piece is perhaps difficult to play, with the challenge lying in getting the right balance between revealing and hiding, but here the trio manage it beautifully.
The first section of ‘Hearing Metal 4 (Birds in Space)’ features clouds of ringing, high-pitched metallic tones, separated by silence. Each cloud has similar timbres but different pitches, harmonies, and density. In the next section, single ringing notes are performed in unison, and allowed to die away before the next one sounds; following this, glinting chords are held while guitar and percussion occasionally interject. The striking thing about this piece is the enchanting strangeness of its ringing, piercing sounds, their unhurried pacing and development only adding to their otherworldliness. In the same way that ripples on a pond extend much further than the object that initially falls into the water, these timbres slowly unfold from the inside.
These two contrasting pieces make for a thoughtful, intriguing, and yes, restful listen: they sit like mist or like birdsong in the air of the room.