Michael Pisaro - July Mountain (Three Versions) (2010)
Michael Pisaro has been, for some time now, all the rage in a tiny section of the experimental music fanatics crowd. Unfortunately that section is so small that even within said segment of the populace, nobody has ever heard of the guy. At least that's my impression, what's yours?
Pisaro is part of the Wandelweiser collective, a German group of musicians who are linked by their explorations in minimalist sound and an office outside Düsseldorf. The most 'famous' member of the club is probably Austrian trombonist, composer and improviser Radu Malfatti; some others are Manfred Werder, Antoine Beuger and Jürg Frey, but don't feel bad if you are not familiar with them.
Pisaro's output rate has gone steeply up in recent years, with several volumes of 'Transparent Cities' and other compositions being released on Edition Wandelweiser, and a bunch of other albums scattered in between. One of the most beautiful results is 'July Mountain', a piece that was originally released as a very limited edition 3" CD on Engraved Glass, the label of most prolific field recordist and sound artist of all times, Jez Riley French (lots of music to be found there too, go listen). On 'July Mountain' (inspired by a Wallace Stevens poem), several layers of percussion played by regular Pisaro collaborator Greg Stuart are topped off with recordings of environmental sounds and a handful of piano chords, resulting in some of the most immersive 20 minutes of sound you'll ever come across.
October 2010 saw the inauguration of Pisaro's very own label, Gravity Wave; one of the first releases was a reissue of 'July Mountain' with 2 alternative versions of the piece, one of them with a different set of field recordings, the other stripped of any environmental sounds at all, revealing the rich layers underneath; if you wish, you can provide some of your own.
This is only one of a bunch of great Pisaro recordings that can still be obtained (check out the other three on Gravity Wave as well, the duo with Taku Sugimoto on Erstwhile, and definitely don't miss out on 'A Wave and Waves', also released last year but on Cathnor this time, and also realized by Greg Stuart - beautiful work), so spend generously, the rewards are ample.