Marcus Fischer: Collected Dust

The concept driving sound artist Marcus Fischer's latest venture is an intriguing one, to say the least. The seven pieces on Collected Dust were culled from a year's worth of activity whereby the Portland, Oregon-based artist resolved to complete one creative project per day from January 2009 to January 2010, whether it be a sound piece, photograph, field recording, illustration, or design (he documented the project's evolution at a blog called Dust Breeding). Tench overseer M. Ostermeier selected seven pieces from the body of work that accumulated over the year, which Fischer then updated and refined for the formal album release. As serious about his work as Fischer is, he's obviously not without a sense of humour, as the playfully ironic title makes clear.

“Constant” opens the collection in restrained manner with a delicate, lulling drone that's speckled with micro-sounds of what one presumes to be real-world objects, though it's unclear what exactly they are. The ambient glow given off by “Nearly There” is so bestilled and develops so unhurriedly that it begins to sound like a lost fifth track from Eno's Music For Airports, and it's at such moments that we truly appreciate the artfulness of Fischer's handling of such micro-materials. Here and elsewhere, soft illuminations, guitar shadings, synthetic textures, and ambient swirls drift through serene mood-pieces thoroughly capable of inducing meditative calm in the listener. The fullest measure of the album's style is captured in “Halfway to Six,” which dots its painterly vistas with hiss-laden flickers, plucks, and thrums for thirteen placid minutes. The focus is obviously on texture and arrangement, the goal less on producing a narrative arc and more on bringing into being a crystalline ambient soundscape of consistent dynamic range. In some cases, such as the closing “Sixteen Shapes,” Fischer strips the sounds away until what's left are the barest essentials, a move that in turn heightens the listener's awareness of the few that remain.

Fischer garnered justifiable praise for his 2010 album Monocoastal, issued on Taylor Deupree's 12k label, and also collaborated on a recent one with Deupree called In a Place of Such Graceful Shapes, likewise issued on 12k. In its understated yet powerful way, Collected Dust builds upon the character of those recordings and helps to further establish Fischer's reputation as a sound sculptor of rarefied sensitivity.

February 2012