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Christopher Bissonnette - In Between Words

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Artist: Christopher Bissonnette

Album: In Between Words

Label: Kranky

Review date: Apr. 24, 2008

It may be hard to tell In Between Words apart from the rest of the Kranky catalog on a casual listen. The sophomore album from Canada's Christopher Bissonnette, all those double-consonants belying a name as smooth as the glimmering froth he emits; underneath the frittered guitar sprawls, tinctured beats and chalk-etched songcraft eddies a glacial drift similar to many a labelmate on the venerable Chicago imprint. Each Bissonnette track is a nimbus mist slowly sweeping by, stirring dust mites and snowflakes in a mesmeric whirr. When faintly coagulated, it wobbles on an oil-slick expanse. Whether a testament to Kranky-as-auteur consistency or a symptom of cotton-eared A&R, I think Bissonnette certainly belongs to the label with the telling oscilloscope logo.

Sound designer a priori, Bissonnette creates pneumatic environments pregnant with tension. Cold compressed air and digital glyphs are his instruments. While Stars of the Lid (the Velvets to his Raveonettes) lace their titanium drones with the fading-warmth of bowed strings, Bissonnette's samples are far more spectral. Or maybe just indecipherable, processed within a terabit of noise. There are symphonic traces here, but they're more erasures and reflections, residual phenomena lingering in the corners or just imagined due to the vagueness of his shadowy rustles. As the title of his 2005 debut attested, a lot of activity surfaces on the Periphery. In fact, no great distance has been crossed since that first album. It appears Bissonnette's gliding submarine, fog lights barely piercing the miasmic hiss, still patrols the same stretch of arctic seabed.

One of the few identifiable analog sources on In Between Words is a bell which doesn't toll as much as drip like melted ore on "Tempest," a track disarmingly hollowed-out in comparison with the fuzzling swirls and arabesques of smoke that suffuse the disc. "The Colonnade" skates garbled data around grime-breaded piano notes as tautly-coiled strings are randomly flicked. But mostly there are deep lagoons of swirling murk, churned by invisible turbines. Float lightly over them or dive down, the choice is yours.

By Bernardo Rondeau

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