Guillermo Pizarro ~ Glasswerks

final gpEvery once in awhile, my wife/bandmate and I like to open up our home to some of our musically-inclined traveling friends. Often it’s just a guest bed to crash on, a warm meal after days of road Ramen along with some good conversation. Occasionally a musician or group will play a short set for a small but attentive crowd, never adding up to more than fifteen or twenty, in the reaching shadows of our old house. Through this open-door policy I’ve managed to keep up not just with touring friends between bigger shows along their route, but I’ve also managed to make some new ones, exposed to quite a few brilliant experimental artists from all over.

Falling Waters, West Virginia’s Guillermo Pizarro, along with his equally-astouding tourmate Christopher Feltner, stand out recently in this category, having hosted them at our home for a set and then playing alongside them a day or two later in another city. While Mr. Feltner’s work is a haunting, often-terrifying collage of spoken word and looped didgeredoo, Mr. Pizarro’s work is even more minimalist, relying for these performances on a bucket of shattered glass, effects pedals, a microphone, and a single cymbal. In the wrong hands this could come off entirely too pretentious and arthouse by half. Instead, Pizarro works at exorcising unexpected timbers and textures from the bowels of his slight tools, and finds subtle and jarring beauty in the maelstrom.

These sets are brought to fruition on the very aptly-titled Glasswerks. Terrifying manipulated destruction worms its way through the first few minutes of “By The Time I Get To Green Lane”, while echoing field recordings of the damned whisper about like unglued phantoms far below the stormclouds. The track pulses off into a subtle throb a few minutes in before that bloodcurdling hurricane of feedback returns once more, wailing and shattering its way through the landscape as distant, clanging percussive elements work their way into the mix. This isn’t just aggressive, this is bombs raining down on your homeland.

The title track that follows begins subtly, with the static receding to a softer, near-subaural rumble while unprocessed glass is stomped every which way in the piece’s foreground, soon building to a fiery crescendo of industrial clanks and whirrs before tapering off again into thick static crackles and crumbling feedback signals. These pieces never remain static (sorry, bad pun) for long, constantly shifting and morphing as they blossom into full orchestras for the broken and splintered. Though both pieces are fifteen-plus minutes of glorious cacophony, there’s moments here that are still somehow catchy and as memorable as any ¬†traditionally melodic material out there. One thing neither of these tracks is for even a second is boring.

Mr. Pizarro is a friendly and mellow sort, and it’s surprising and exhilarating to hear such deep sonic mayhem erupt forth from such a genial sort of fellow. Hopefully as he continues to tour here and there, more and more folks will find themselves tuned into his particular frequency of grimy industrial churn. We can only hope he returns to our own home again soon, and that this time I won’t get any shards of glass in my bare feet as a souvenir. (Zachary Corsa)

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  1. Pingback: ACL 2013: Top Ten Field Recording & Soundscape | a closer listen

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