George Carlin once said that “It’s not enough to know what notes to play. You have to know why they need to be played.” Such is the case and perhaps even more so when it comes to experimental/noise art. Here’s the often over-looked fact, however. Equal to the importance of where to place the notes, layers, frequencies etc., is where NOT to put them. That is one of the many things that separates Guillermo Pizarro from the mass of other experimental and noise artists thus proving that he is a master of his craft.
From Bandcamp…“Guillermo Pizarro (1987) is a sound artist from Eastern PA by way of West Virginia. He started experimenting in 2010 with prepared guitar/drone compositions, and has since then moved to experimenting with field recordings, electronics and amplified objects to create his soundscapes.”
In fact, some of the more effective moments in this recording which reflect the reasons why we listen to noise (dynamics, purposeful discomfort etc.) are those which have next to no sound. Noise is one of those things that we find comfort in its discordance. Take for example…1:06 of “A Room With A View.”
Harmonic Poems incorporates the use of harsh noise, field recordings, spoken word moments and found objects among other tools. Often we hear incongruous tools with an ironic name of Harmonic Poems as there is no harmony. The poetry portion is debatable as the often submerged spoken word element should be subjective to the listener.
Recordings as diverse as Harmonic Poems are often difficult to review as it is challenging to appropriately describe how many ends of the spectrum can REALLY fit together in one portrait. Well, Guillermo Pizarro really does just that in a most effective way. So sometimes we need to do a track-by-track overview.
Track 1, “My Guest” begins with a subterranean black ambient field which then gives birth to a lake of harsh noise. Distant murky found object sounds bring forth the image of an industrial factory consumed by a lake. Eventually the static takes over to signal the loss of connection to the story…like someone being washed away at sea.
Track 2, “A Room With a View” starts with a prominent creaking sound (possibly a rocking chair like the one depicted on the cover?) and a high-pitch frequency. Referring to an aforementioned example, “A Room With A View,” one of the most effective moments in this recording is when the noise element of this track completely drops off at 1:06 leaving only the sound of the creaking object. It’s a very unsettling moment but brilliant in it’s simplicity. It’s like a scene in a horror film…no dialog, just a chair rocking back and forth in otherwise silence.
Track 3, “Aokigahara” begins with the guttural background and the clanging of noises that sound like a below-ground wind chime. The background gets louder, more noises appear including a discordant improvised stringed instrument. Again… a strong point of this artist…. the growing in volume and accumulation of instruments that the rule book says have no business belonging together. But yet somehow in this case they work. By the end of the track everything is wonderfully swallowed in an ocean of harsh noise.
A dynamic of distorted scream and a nice violin piece start off track 4, “Aokigahara Pt. II.” but then are quickly enveloped in a wall of noise. In “Wind Horn,” track 5 we hear a nice horn sound which is again politely disrupted by a slowly building cut-up noise wall that seems to grow with depth and frequency levels. In track 6, “Deep Creek Blues,” a field recording starts and then develops with a death industrial backdrop. Low male spoken word appears to narrate a walk guarded by an ebbing and flowing flurry of discorded noise. This is yet another example of the effectiveness that Mr. Pizarro creates when the noise completely drops off and we are just left with minimal sound. But then the noise picks up again with a consistent horn or string background sound. It all drops off at the end with what appears to be studio feedback then ends as it begins with a field recording (water).
Nutshell review; eclectic, diverse, delicate and noisy. Guillermo Pizarro is a master craftsman with construction, manipulation and the destruction of beauty.
Harmonic Poems will be released as a limited edition cd and digital release on August 21.