By: Daniela Patrizi
Jherek Bischoff | website | facebook | twitter | bandcamp |
Released on July 15, 2016 via The Leaf Label
I have played Cistern dozens of times, and I still struggle to find the words to adequately describe it, despite how much I like it. Cistern is the latest album of Jherek Bischoff whose name is not new in the music industry as he first emerged as a sideman and co-writer in several bands such as Parenthetical Girls, Xiu Xiu, Degenerate Art Ensemble and The Dead Science. He also joined Amanda Palmer recently and together they released Strung Out in Heaven, a tribute album of David Bowie songs.
Cistern, that follows the artist’s debut Composed, brings only his name on it and the fact that Bischoff spent a good part of his life on a sail boat inspired him the unusual location for the album’s recording. As written on the bandcamp page of the artist, “Cistern is an album inspired by time Bischoff spent improvising in an empty, two-million-gallon, and underground water tank, with a 45-second reverb decay”. This explain the unique sound and atmosphere that characterize Cistern, and what a fantastic first impression the album made when I first played it!
Cistern is 43 minutes in length and is a collection of nine exquisite pieces centered around the orchestral sounds, provided by the NYC-based ensemble Contemporaneous, brilliantly combining acoustic with synthetic, until the two elements blend into music that simply carries one away. Pressing play is like opening a door that takes you into another, deeper world where there’s darkness, there’s fog but there’s also a hint of light, there’s melancholy but you’ll find hope. It’s a world that permeates your most intimate senses.
From the first notes of the album’s opener ‘Automatism’, it is clear that the sound of Cistern is very innovative, it progresses in a dense fog and it sets the album’s tone. ‘Cas(s)siopeia’ is the piece that moves me more than any of the other songs with its elegance and uplifting sound that gives you the impression to float among the stars in the northern sky.
The melody of ‘Headless’ has a linear progression that is as patient as it is lush until the point where the magical interplay between the orchestral music and its own echoes, so cleverly combined that it’s difficult to tell where one ends and the next begins, flourishes and it’s pure beauty.
‘Attuna’, with its string harmonics and atmospheric reverb and its oscillation from light to dark, enters your ears, waves into your mind and it has an incredibly calming power that weakens every tension throughout all your body. The mood changes with ‘The Wolf’ and again Bischoff makes the light disappear and takes you back to he thick, dense fog that permeates the whole composition. The sense of oppression and anxiety of ‘The Wolf’ is soon replaced by the melancholic beauty of the title track.
‘Cistern’ is so deep and intimate that wraps you from the very first note and it’s like a cozy blanket that reminds you about your loneliness but at the same time it protects you from it. It’s the most contemplative track of a contemplative album that naturally incites you to travel into a timeless dimension of your life where events flow rapidly as parts of the same film.
I still have to give my own interpretation of the closer ‘The Sea’s Soon’ that can be either the comforting and encouraging end of the journey through your life or the resignation in front our loneliness and our continuous search of the sense of life.
That’s the beauty of Cistern: every track is so inspiring that can be whatever you like and it changes according to your mood. Every time you listen to it, it assumes new nuances within the wide range of colors that the majesty of Jherek Bischoff offered through this absolutely stunning collection. It’s up to you now to get familiar with it and to start imprinting your own canvas.