Monday, July 27, 2015

Forthcoming, 2015/16

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.

Piano (performed by Reinier van Houdt) (ErstClass) January, 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)

Duo with Christian Wolff (erstwhile), spring/summer 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.

Gravity Wave 014 and 015. (October or November, 2016)

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 2016. 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

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Early October

The release of the next Gravity Wave project, Continuum Unbound, is imminent: we expect it will be ready to ship by the beginning of October. 

It is a box with three discs – 3 hours and 36 minutes of music total – and our biggest project to date. 

In addition to the box, each disc has its own cover, and there is a booklet with score excerpts, photographs and extensive liner notes. (Scroll down to the previous entry, if you are interested in the musical contents. I'll just add that the contributions from Greg Stuart, Patrick Farmer, Joe Panzner and Toshiya Tsunoda, were incredible.) 

We're very excited to get this out, but it is expensive to produce, so pre-orders would be very welcome. (This can be done using the button for the box on the right side panel.) Thanks to everyone who has already pre-ordered and for the support of the label in general.

I've reproduced the box cover above, and the three CD covers below. 

Box cover collage and the photos for 011 and 012 are by Greg Stuart. The photo for 013 is by myself (Michael Pisaro). Yuko Zama designed the whole set. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Continuum Unbound, Fall 2014

In the Fall of 2014, Gravity Wave will release three CDs comprising the new work Continuum Unbound, the largest project we have undertaken with the label.

It is a piece in three separate parts, each 72 minutes long, each one disc.

Kingsnake Grey is a field recording of sundown in the Congaree National Park in South Carolina. The beautiful and erratic sonic transformation that occurred over the 72 minutes was the model for the other two pieces. (GW 011)

Congaree Nomads takes as its basis 24 three-minute recordings Greg Stuart and I made in the park, along Cedar Creek and the Kingsnake, the Weston Lake and the River trails. It is a “nomadic” series that moves very gradually from the Creek to the Congaree River. Instrumental “fogs” (harmonies made by Pisaro and Stuart) overlay the field recordings. (GW 012)

Anabasis is a composition in 72 parts for five musicians, loosely based on four kinds of materials: Sand, Wind, Tone and Wave. The musicians featured on this recording (in addition to Pisaro and Stuart) will be Patrick Farmer, Joe Panzner and Toshiya Tsunoda. (GW 013)

Continuum Unbound, as the title implies, attempts to hear how the apparent continuum of the sounding world is actually a series of states that are as fragile and discontinuous as they are solid and connected. (Discrete continuity is one of the ways we have of understanding contingency.)

The three discs will be available  in a box (along with a printed essay).

(Photos are by Greg Stuart and Michael Pisaro)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Closed Categories in Cartesian Worlds (GW 010)

Design (and photo) by Yuko Zama

We are very happy to announce the release of GW 010, a 72-minute CD version of Closed Categories in Cartesian Worlds, for crotales and sine tones (composed by Michael Pisaro, performed by Greg Stuart, mastered by Michael Pisaro and Joe Panzner). Those interested in more info and sound examples can look below. The disc also comes with extensive notes and a reproduction of a page of the score. 

From the notes:

"This record consists of four crotales, each bowed for 16 minutes. Against each crotale I have placed sine tones, one after another, for four minutes each (four for each crotale note). The score gives 10 possibilities for each crotale (over the two octave range of the instrument there are 250 possibilities). Greg selected four instruments, and then sent me the recordings. I took some time to select and scale the volume of the sine tones, work with the stereo balance and mix each crotale/tone combination in a slightly different way.

What emerges from the vast possible selection is four connected pieces, working their way up in range, each having a distinct profile, structured perhaps with a distant echo of a four movement symphony."

Ordering, as always, can be accomplished with the widget on the right column of this blog.

Detail from the score.

Monday, October 28, 2013

GW 010: excerpt and pre-order

Below I've posted a SoundCloud link to an excerpt from Part 1 of the disc, about four minutes of the eighteen minute section. The image above (which is that of the excerpt) might give you some idea of what you are in for.

Greg Stuart, crotales
Michael Pisaro, sine tones (and composition)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

GW010 Is Getting Closer

Happy to post Yuko Zama's cover for Gravity Wave 010 (Closed Categories in Cartesian Worlds). 

The 72-minute CD should be out by mid-November.