Adam Pacione: A Still Life
Adam Pacione: Still Life #2: They Live By Night
Adam Pacione: Still Life #3: Drzewo
Adam Pacione: Still Life #4: Split At The Core
Adam Pacione: Still Life #5: Evening Colours
Adam Pacione: Still Life #6: Thinning Silver
Bee Eater Recordings
Adam Pacione: Still Life #8: Ferro Organ
Adam Pacione: Still Life #9: Green Then Blue
Adam Pacione: Still Life #10: Fairgrounds
Adam Pacione: Still Life #11: A Delicate Giant
Adam Pacione: Still Life #12: The Harmony of Reflected Light
Adam Pacione: Still Life #13: Lumen Organ
Adam Pacione: Still Life #14: Ending Titles
Hearing all fourteen of Adam Pacione's Still Life recordings in a prolonged single listening session makes for a considerably different yet no less remarkable experience than it would have been had I heard each one a month apart. Of course, absorbing the material in its totality is different from how the Fort Worth, Texas-based sound artist intended for it to be heard. His design for the project involved him issuing on his own Bee Eater Recordings imprint a new three-inch CD-R (100 copies total) containing a single piece (generally in the twenty-minute range) each month for twelve months starting in January 2009. Derived from late-night improvised sessions recorded between 1999 and 2008, the pieces often are, in fact, suggestive of late-night moods, specifically the becalmed state one enters when, lying in bed, one feels one's entire being relax as it readies itself for sleep.
The inaugural instalment, A Still Life, actually appeared on Infraction, not Bee Eater Recordings, in 2007 as an accompanying three-inch to Pacione's splendid full-length From Stills to Motion. Certainly the low-level immersive drift of the opening chapter nicely sets the tone for the series. What sounds like processed piano clusters repeat in wave-like surges while an equally restrained drone intones surreptitiously alongside. It's well-nigh impossible to guess what or who exactly Pacione's referring to in the second part's title They Live By Night, but one might guess phantom forest creatures based on the mystical swirls that drift throughout the work. Church-like organ tones murmur softly amidst equally soft string tones in a work that Pacione recorded in part during 2001 and eventually completed in the summer of 2008. Number three, Drzewo, originated even earlier (recorded during the summer of 1999 and completed in 2008) but such details matter little when the music in question is a timeless ambient setting of ethereal organ tones. Recorded during 2006-2007, Still Life #4: Split At The Core shimmers a bit more extrovertedly during its opening moments but gradually decompresses until it becomes an hypnotic serenade of becalmed tones. Number five in the series, Evening Colours, evokes fading light in its unhurried unspool of subliminal drift but Pacione disrupts the peacefulness by letting an ominous quality seep in as the piece nears its end. Growing progressively more industrial in spirit as it develops, the time-suspending drone Thinning Silver quietly shimmers and swirls for nineteen trance-inducing minutes, while the vaporous seventh instalment, Emulsions, does much the same thereafter. Recorded in March 2002, the glistening electrical slivers that make up Ferro Organ simmer and drone gently for twenty peaceful minutes. Pacione may have his eye on ambient music's potential for synaesthesia in titling the ninth in the series Green Then Blue. No matter his intentions, the resultant fourteen-minute setting is beautiful, a slowly drifting cloud of celestial serenity. Still Life #10: Fairgrounds (recorded February 2002) shimmers rather more agitatedly during its opening third than the others preceding it and, as such, captures the wonder and excitement hyperactive children express upon arrival. Number eleven, A Delicate Giant, returns us to a more brooding style, with droning tones rumbling subterraneously and softer flurries sweeping across the terrain above ground. The twelfth, The Harmony of Reflected Light, takes a surprising turn in introducing an almost dub-like production element into the series, not to mention an even psychedelic quality. Melting chords echo through the firmament during the opening moments but admittedly the dub connection recedes quickly as tones and washes stretch out, turning into arcing comet trails in the process. Lumen Organ might be described as the sound of nocturnal insects heard in deep slumber, with their chirps uniting into fluttering waves of inhalations and exhalations. The fourteenth chapter, Ending Titles, brings the series to a fittingly elegant close, with string-like washes rising alongside wavering tones.
Even a single tour through the entire mesmerizing project reveals that Pacione's approach is admirably understated. There's nary a moment of cheap theatrics and never is a mood shattered with a gratuitous rupture of some mystifying kind. Ingesting the entire project in a single, extended session has its benefits, but there is a good argument for experiencing the material according to its original schedule too; doing so would be a little bit like enjoying the monthly visit to the massage parlour or the pleasure one derives from having a monthly magazine arrive in the post, in both instances a regulated pleasure one looks forward to each week or month.