Christopher Bissonnette patches in his analogue synthesiser once more for this new outing on Kranky. While plenty have been tutting about ‘peak modular’ recently, with Pitch, Paper & Foil Bissonnette shows that a clear vision and tight control can achieve wonder without going bleep-mad.
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The people from the fine art world that decide to make music are actually really good at ambient-ish stuff. Christopher Bissonette did exactly that, transitioning from weird assemblages of shape toward sound that’s as hard to make out but totally full of colour and detail. Oh and did I say modular synth? I feel like it’s obligatory to mention the modular synth.
The panoramic melancholy of the likes of label mates (pre-Ruins) Grouper and Tim Hecker is present here, except with the synth and its glistening tones at the fore. Well, sort of at the fore; the analog textures shift focus constantly, sometimes buried behind deliberately-retained noises like the hiss of the tape before a trebly tone rises outwards with searing character. This is another fairly rare example of a great use of the modular (outside dance music), where boundaries are set up so that the machine doesn’t go off on one of its wandering tangents of audible nonsense. Some sections have it just playing minimal, pointillist phrases around a peaceful scale (‘Surcease’), which lets the bare oscillators sing their spacey songs.
One thing that the rise of the modular has brought is a sort of increase in high-definition synth sounds - ones that sound so much more vibrant and rich than those pre-modular boom. Probably because they’re all so damn expensive if you want to do anything useful. Back to Chris, he’s become an expert at using this to his advantage, conjuring a sort of naturalistic swirl that harks back to the early synth ambients while bringing in modern arrangements and processing - all round sweetness.
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- Pitch, Paper & Foil by Christopher Bissonnette
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