Marcus Fischer and The OO-Ray: Tessellations
Optic Echo

Simpatico partners Marcus Fischer and Ted Laderas (The OO-Ray) bring out the best in one another on this excellent collaborative outing for Optic Echo. That shouldn't be a total surprise as the two have, in fact, played and performed together a number of times prior to the 2011 recording of this twelve-inch vinyl set (available in a hand-numbered limited edition of 250 copies), plus Laderas has also contributed cello to live performances and recordings by Fischer's duo Unrecognizable Now. Using cello, lap harp, tuning forks, synthesizers, guitar, and percussion as sound sources and analog and digital processing as production means, the two first generated long-form improvisations and then shaped them into the album's seven settings. In their final form, however, the pieces unfold in a patient and natural manner that makes them seem more like meditative drones delicately shaped in real-time.

Fischer's participation guarantees that the recording exudes a pastoral electroacoustic sound of the kind familiar to 12k devotees; Laderas's presence, on the other hand, ensures that the material possesses an immediacy and highly personalized quality that his cello playing naturally communicates (something clearly heard, for example, in the bowing that introduces “Unfold”). Characteristic of the recording's luscious sound, the opening piece “Belong” augments placid droning fields of acoustic guitar and electronics with the plaintive cry of the cello's bowed tones. The pairing of cello and guitar makes for a sensual result that is perhaps most palpably felt during “Bokeh” when Laderas's tones blend gracefully into a dense surround of electric guitar textures and cymbal shadings.

The melancholy slow-burn of “Ghost Lights” makes it one of the album's stand-outs, while the lilting title track is perhaps Tesselations' most beautiful and emotionally affecting, especially when it works its magic for ten graceful minutes. As a word, tessellate refers to how precisely things fit together—triangles, for instance, will tesselate whereas octagons will not—and as such it's a fitting title for the project given how fluidly the sounds and strategies deployed by Fischer and Laderas complement one another.

September 2012