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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Christopher Bissonnette
Periphery
Kranky

Rating: 7/10 ?


October 12, 2005
When an artist titles a song "Comfortable Expectations," you get the idea that he's fully aware of convention and the tradition within which he's working. This song, along with the rest of Periphery, demonstrates Bissonnette's firm grasp on the ambient idiom. Like Harold Budd, Brian Eno, Ryuichi Sakamoto and labelmate Keith Fullerton Whitman, Bissonnette makes music that sits comfortably in the rock/pop, electronic, new age or classical section of the record store.

Aside from some crackles and glitches in "Travelling [sic] Light," Bissonnette deviates little from Music for Airports' template for ambient compositions. He patches together piano, organ and less distinguishable samples, and manipulates them into Earth-moving drones or glistening melodic washes.

His tones and techniques seem to cater to listeners' comfortable expectations, but his structures alternate between amorphous and defined. The aptly titled "Substrata" barely moves, with most of its activity taking place in the lowest of frequencies; it's a neck beard away from being a Sunn O))) piece. "Pellucidity" and "Comfortable Expectations" resolve themselves in a more conventional manner, cutting through the glacial haze to examine tonal tensions and find a satisfying conclusion.

If Bissonnette has one defining individual characteristic, it's his ability to create surface beauty that doesn't sit as easily as it should. Periphery is not challenging music in any conventional sense, but has a subliminal, dark current that runs alongside its sweeping moments of clarity; there's always the suggestion that "Travelling Light"'s laptop deconstruction could be carried out on a large scale, or that like William Basinski's tape loops, the whole thing could slowly disintegrate into a completely different entity. This is music that hides more than it reveals. The beauty in that, though, is that what it does show is totally enrapturing.

Reviewed by Phillip Buchan
A one-time music director at WUOG in Athens, Phillip is into college radio, literature, writing, buying records, going to shows, talking to friends, learning -- pretty much the same stuff that all of us priveledged, (pseudo?)intellectual Americans are into.

See other reviews by Phillip Buchan

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