Review: Christopher Bissonnette – Pitch, Paper & Foil

Christopher Bissonnette - Pitch, Paper & FoilI can’t call Pitch, Paper & Foil an ambient record. Within the word “ambient” are implications of dependency and stasis. With “ambient”, I anticipate sound to behave like a mattress or a warm bath; catching me as I descend, embracing and retracting around the contours of my body. I feel much more uncertain inside Bissonnette’s latest work. The electronics flicker at the hands of bad wiring and jolt gently as though hit with a surge of excess voltage. Glimmered notes dim to black or slip behind fogs of static. Synth chords come covered in the fuzz of tape damage or poor capture. He invites the dramatic side of chance, deliberately founding his constructions on flimsy materials and perilously thin layers of adhesive. I find myself part-lulled by the soft synthesisers and gushes of reverb, and part-tense in the expectation that the entire soundscape may soon collapse upon my head in a rain of cotton, honey and halogen.

He also orchestrates a very strange, almost hallucinatory depth of field. It’s undoubtedly a three-dimensional record (particularly when I’m trapped inside the globe of low hums and sudden twinkles on “Shuttering Slides”), but the foreground is forever zooming to the back, while the tiny intricacies of the horizon become glints of light trapped in my eyelashes. It’s not a nauseating experience – rather, it’s deft and mercurial, causing me to call my own perceptual abilities into doubt rather than acknowledge the inherent disorientation of Bissonnette’s world. There is a cyclonic chaos to this record, although when encased in such caressing synthesis, you’d be forgiven for failing to look for it.

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