The explorations in 2 seconds / b minor / wave by Miachel Pisaro and Taku Sugimoto are mini journeys into the concepts “pulse” “pitch” and “wave” and what each of these might mean to the other and to the receptive audience – the ideal audience – in the final accumulation of sounds presented. By making an exploration of these terms, these musicians are, in their own way making an appeal to an almighty listener. The listener they believe / hope each other to be and by the fact that they have recorded the work, the listener they suppose to exist “out there somewhere”. However, like Anton Webern understood, there is no listener to receive the work and properly recognise its value. IN this day and age, we artists have to accept we are alone, making music and writing at our own risk with no guarantee from the broader context.
Beckett drew this very conclusion in his break with Joyce and it was Joyce himself who suggested he wrote Finnegans Wake to “keep them occupied for the next 400 years.” However, this lack of satisfying context, or proper witness to the collaboration of these great musicians does not mean there is no redemptive quality in the act of listening even if it is impossible for us to bear adequate witness to the enormity of the expression. Part of what gives us access is the words “pulse” “Pitch” and “wave”. These words act as an associated image that connects us to a reality that allows for the immense freedom of the sound.
When Michael Pisaro and Taku Sugimoto decided they would examine what each of these words meant for them, they were separated by physical distance. The theory was they would each create sounds associated with those words, and these sounds would form a collaborative listening experience. Here are the Erstwhile notes on th way the project was constructed:
2 seconds/b minor/wave is a long distance collaboration, with each musician composing and recording their own parts, before hearing what the other had done. Pulse, pitch and wave were the three areas they wanted to explore on the three pieces, and loose rules/guidelines were agreed on beforehand, as follows: ’2 seconds’ was a unit of pulse, either as a basic unit or a point of departure; ‘b minor’ was a key, with Sugimoto playing harmony and Pisaro playing melody: and ‘wave’, with no further details, simply whatever that word brought to mind. This was the extent of the specific discussion between the two, and thus the entirely fluid melding of the results is a testament to their deep understanding of the other’s aesthetic/s. Yuko Zama’s intuitively empathetic design is a perfect symbiotic fit for the music contained within.
Even though each musician gives their own sound recognition of what these words mean, ultimately it is the flawed listener who will form the final pronouncement within themselves, dictated by their own perceptions of “pulse” “pitch” and “wave”. Because there is no message to send, only perceptions to uncover, we are left with the Plato insight that states ideas are not the hidden reality beneath appearances; ideas are nothing more than the very form of appearance – that is appearance as appearance. Each sound and its variations and it relationship to the sounds around it is its own appearance of a sound idea. Genuine art knows how to subtract its subject from the “deeper” context of historical reality – that is – it has come to terms with meaning presiding with the flawed listener and relinquished control over planting a seed.
Where there are self reflexive reminders in post-modern fiction that we are reading a book and not to get too entangled in the reality that will prevent us from enjoying the books sweet dream, or similar moments in cinema where a character in the narrative will turn and address the audience through the camera, there are no such moments of cascading severing from our perceptions of what “pulse” “pitch” and “wave” might be which in turn frees us to fully experience those words on their own terms within us. These musicians stay with their own perception. There is no narrative break in structure. The entire listening journey remains firmly within the pre determined barriers. In the end this is the gift of these two talented musicians. That we listen without hesitation, that we listen without break, that we engage in the ideas as appearances and allow for the lightness of touch that will highlight the weight of all things around it specifically by the faith and the belief that somewhere out there, a perfect listener can be found.
This album can be purchased at Erstwhile Records here.
I am currently reading “Less than Nothing” by Slavoj Zizek and used his words in chapter one as the inspiration for the ideas that formed the basis of this post.