Joe Panzer / Greg Stuart - "Organ B/W Timpani Solo" (Dystonia Duos)
Collectively, the duo of Joe Panzner and Greg Stuart are credited with electricity, friction, and gravity. Take that, gear-heads! But it’s not entirely impossible to figure out what’s being played here. Panzner is an electronic musician and mastering engineer based in Columbus, Ohio; he’s worked a lot with Mike Shiflet, and photographic evidence suggests that the much-maligned laptop computer is his main axe, at least on stage. Greg Stuart is a percussionist, a music professor on the faculty of the University of South Carolina, and the most sympathetic interpreter I’ve heard so far of Michael Pisaro’s text-based scores. Given where each man lives, they missed a real opportunity by failing to name either themselves or their record after the man who introduced homeland insecurity to the Americas.
In that capacity, Stuart often uses aggregations of small instruments (including one piece performed entirely with grains of rice) to generate a large but ultra-detailed sound; you’ll also hear some of the sine waves that Pisaro uses as focusing devices in his own pieces. But even though those elements play parts on Dystonia Duos, its three pieces sound nothing like any Pisaro record I’ve ever heard, nor much like Panzner’s brusque noise-scapes. They don’t feel played so much as constructed, painstakingly, from work that took place over time in each man’s home as well as in two Brazilian cities that the duo toured in 2012. The first piece, “Organ b/w tympani solo,” belies its title by opening with a snarl of tabletop and radio activity skewered by high tones; if I had to imagine the source, I’d imagine contact mics, brillo pads, and a shovel. As the piece progresses, these elements seem to slowly combust, as though submitted to electrolysis. It’s like hearing noise atomized, then rearranged on a sub-atomic level. That level of detail persists on the next track, “Dissection Puzzle,” even at the moments that it explodes into blasts as brutal as Merzbow. And like Merzbow, this music takes its time; “Casa de Pedras,” the final track, takes over twenty minutes to slowly fade from face-stripping fury to serene, outer space orbit. This is noise realized with the rigor of science, texture measured in microns, pitch pixilated — as finite as a knock-out punch, yet infinitely varied in its details.