PRICE: $18.00
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LP version. Comes on milky clear vinyl with grey splatter, housed in a gatefold sleeve. The long-awaited, groundbreaking, pop album by acclaimed composer Michael Pisaro. Featuring Julia Holter, Tashi Wada, Cassia Streb and Rob Esler. "Voice: soft, pure (no vibrato), more like folk or pop singing than lieder singing." -- from the book of scores. "I began writing these pieces with a question in mind: what happens to old political songs?" -- Michael Pisaro, 2011. Tombstones reconstitutes the ghost of the voice. Slipping down the inexorable mountain-slope of tones in "New Orleans," or bearing mute witness to the dark octaves that loom over Julia Holter's delicate vocal on "Silent Cloud," you get the feeling that Tombstones, like Pierre Klossowski's viscous, spinning Baphomet, wants to draw all histories out into the open, and to make them speak. MP: "The tombstones take tiny fragments of old and not-so-old songs and put them into an experimental music situation, introducing them to a kind of chaos, where the arrangement of the written-out material is up for grabs." Each "tombstone," as these tracks are called, is literally a "sampled" bit of structure, tuning, lyricism, beat, or phrasing; a mystery moment sourced from perhaps, The Beatles, DJ Screw, Bob Dylan, and UGK, to name a few. MP: "I selected performances with this question in mind: did the song happen?" Pisaro boils the archetype of sampling down to a fragment of intention, the groundwork of a sound, at once beyond the reach, and at the origin of the act of editing. In other words, it's the knowledge-seeker's paradox in music. While it is not possible to know all there is in creation, it is quite possible to distill the elegant, simple processes at its heart. In the band, electronics are conspicuously absent (but not forbidden). Two electric guitars (played by Grier and Pisaro) appear. Otherwise, Tombstones relies on a rather economical spread of acoustic instruments and percussion, some conventional, some not-so-conventional. The pulsating drones of harmonium (Tashi Wada, Julia Holter) and e-bow guitar anchor the field with unwavering strings (Cassia Streb, Laura Steenberge) and flute (Kelly Coats) performed without a hint of vibrato. Percussionist Rob Esler offers a surprising range of naturalistic (sometimes eerily synthesizer-like) performances that aim for halo more than punctuation. Vocalists Janet Kim, Julia Holter, Laura Steenberge, and Lisa Tolentino each approach their performances in unique ways. Pisaro's composition technique preserves the experimental situation within a realm of trust and wonder. On "Fool," we have one impossibly protracted line from the hook to UGK's rap ballad "One Day." But a closer look at the score reveals not an act of dissection, nor a state of chance, but a state of trust. The ensemble must feel out for how long to make a sound. They must choose, upon instinct, when to start and when to stop. Pisaro offers only just-so-many-notes, or just-so-few dynamic markings, like a blind descent.