The cover of Exotic Exit depicts an empty parking lot next to a shopping mall. On the far side is another lot that appears to be jammed full. It’s just the sort of view that you could drive past any day of the week on the edge of any burg in the U.S.A., and most of us would drive through it thinking about something else. Vanessa Rossetto’s music includes not only sounds you might collect in such an environment, but the acoustic equivalent of that picture. It’s full of mundane, unlovely, easy-to-ignore sounds, just like her life, or yours, or mine.
Rossetto is tuned into that which we usually tune out; electronic chimes in the store, whirring air conditioners, bubbling coffee makers, bad music booming across a food court, and people saying shit that probably had nothing to do with you, but seems totally a propos to your life. “My brother can do that,” some guy quips on “348315;” coming after several minutes of gradually intensifying shimmer that could be crickets, or could be a synthesizer, it sounds like the standard crack heard by anyone making art that doesn’t conform to conventional standards of technical accomplishment. Rossetto is a skilled violist, and the rich string drones at the beginning of “De Trop” could be the foundation of an excellent piece of long tone music. But here the strings have to muscle their way past some open-window noise, only to be buffeted by static, and ultimately they fade into a sound field dominated by stirred drinks. Even chamber musicians drive to the mall.
But how many chamber musicians not only know their John Cage well enough to not only listen longer to the boring sounds, but make them into music that isn’t boring at all? Not many. Exotic Exit exists, like Christoph Heemann’s Rings Of Saturn or Michael Pisaro and Toshiya Tsunoda’s Crosshatches, in an in-between zone where played and appropriated music mix it up with found environmental sounds to reflect both the external and internal worlds of people who hear the music of the spheres in their heads while they stand in line or sit at the window.