Christopher Bissonnette: In Between Words

In Between Words, the sophomore album by Christopher Bissonnette, mixes orchestral sound sources with the Canadian composer's own heavily-processed recordings in a manner that generates a vaporous and spectral ambiance. The recording's six “movements” are more like exercises in oceanically-deep sonic textures and dynamics as opposed to conventional melodically-based compositions. Though overlaid by translucent tonal offshoots, a single unwavering pitch forms the core of the monolithic orchestral drone “Provenance” before withdrawing and ceding the spotlight to softly snarling noise splinters. The tension established by that droning pitch places the listener in a suspended state of unease, a strategy Bissonnette deploys more than once. In “A Touch of Heartbreak,” steely whorls billow into gargantuan clouds, at the remote center of which one hears the faint, dream-like pluck of harp strings, while the field elements that initiate “Orffyreus Wheel” morph into a tranquil drift of organ smears that are as luxuriant as they are hypnotically lulling. The album is pure Bissonnette until the final two pieces: “The Colonnade” moves the material into a Murcof-flavoured zone of majestic and symphonic gloom where, speckled with soft piano and wind accents, arcing string tones stretch across the charcoal black sky, while an undeniable similarity to Gas can't negate the epic beauty of the silken string waves in “Jour et Nuit.” Interestingly, the album title suggests an interstitial theme but, in fact, its first literal application only arrives halfway through the recording when the reverberant clang of gamelan bells in “Tempest” fades away into the pauses between strikes. No doubt passionate admirers of Bissonnette's debut Periphery will find much to also admire in its sequel.

April 2008