Erstwhile is proud to announce the first release on the new ErstClass imprint, an epic collection of Michael Pisaro's work for piano from 1994-2016, 11 pieces totalling 223 minutes. The pieces are performed by the brilliant Dutch pianist Reinier van Houdt (Current 93, Walter Marchetti, Robert Ashley, etc.) with close oversight by Pisaro as well as his own musical input at times. The gorgeous 8-panel digipak was designed by Yuko Zama (also the lead producer), and the 8 page booklet features liner notes by Marc Medwin.
The Earth And The Sky draws together 11 pieces composed between 1994 and 2016, which is no small feat when you consider that Dutch pianist Reinier van Houdt recorded his performances in 2015. Hey, this is the 21st century — there’s no reason why a composer can’t use recording technology to continue composing after some tracks have been laid down. Van Houdt sticks mainly to conventional piano sounds, exactingly recorded with a multi-microphone set-up that balances the sounds of instrument and room. Pisaro contributes recordings taken from the grounds where the recording took place, radio noise, and sine waves, which are Pisaro’s signature sound element. The latter seem to vibrate from within the piano’s notes, mutating them into pulsing entities, plumped objects, or simply enhanced editions of themselves. What Pisaro does to those notes parallels what he does to classical music. He plays it straight, jolts new live into it and modifies it at the genetic level. Van Houdt is an apt confederate in this endeavor. He came to the conservatory already steeped in experimental practice, but learned there to love Chopin and Liszt, and his choices are guided to this day by what he likes to play. Now there’s a radical notion — play something because it feels good. But that appreciation of the sensual qualities of a note and the silence that surrounds it is the life force that makes this often sparse and expansive music beautiful. Van Houdt comes not to bury the piano’s essential piano-ness but to revel in it. Since he is doing it with Pisaro’s music, his revelry is distilled to essentials of solidity and space, movement and stillness. Pisaro and van Houdt come not to topple the monolith but to polish it until it reflects them, and my, doesn’t The Earth And The Sky shine. " Bill Meyer, Dusted