Personnel: Jherek Bischoff (ukulele, electric bass, percussion, bells); Serena McKinney, Alina To, Josh Henderson, Steve Creswell, Nikita Morozov, Finnegan Shanahan, Nicole Parks, Marina Kifferstein, Kate Dreyfuss (violin); Sarah Haines, Brianna Atwell, Lauren Baba, Kallie Chieckhomski (viola); Dylan Mattingly, Eli Weinberger, Matthew Smith , Aniela Perry (cello); Vicente Alexim (clarinet, bass clarinet); Kemp Jernigan (oboe); Evan Honse (flugelhorn, percussion); Daniel Linden , Matt Evans (trombone); John Gattis (horns); Zsolt Balogh (piano, toy piano); Mayumia Heider (piano, bells).
Audio Mixer: Jherek Bischoff.
Recording information: Future--Past Studios, NY.
Photographer: Alex Stoddard.
With well over a decade as a multi-instrumentalist sideman, arranger, producer, and songwriter/composer under his belt, Jherek Bischoff follows his acclaimed solo breakthrough, Composed, with Cistern. While Composed featured a number of guests (David Byrne, Caetano Veloso, and Nels Cline among them) and an orchestral sound, it was constructed one instrument at a time by Bischoff. Here, he's joined by the 21-piece chamber ensemble Contemporaneous. An instrumental album, Cistern was borne out of recording experiments in a two-million-gallon water tank beneath Washington's Fort Warden, a defender of Puget Sound. Bischoff found that if he snapped his fingers or cleared his throat, the reverberation in the empty tank lasted 45 seconds. That fact inspired the title track and influenced the slowed pace of the rest of the album. Its reflective character also draws on memories of his unconventional childhood aboard a sailboat in the Pacific with his parents. Piano tones, strings, an echoing drum, and tambourine open track one, "Automatism." An atmospheric slow boil, the piece uses repetition and small changes for impact, but tremolos, percussiveness and, at times, performance muscle, keep it from ever drifting into the background. As the title and backstory suggest, reverb is a major player on the record, though it was recorded in a church rather than the underground tank. "Cistern" features a repeated melodic motif that works its way through a string arrangement that incorporates woodwinds, horns, and shimmering bells. Elsewhere, electronics blend with strings and obscure the tempo on "Cas(s)iopeia," and dissonance creeps about trudging low strings on "The Wolf." Even without prior knowledge of the composer's nomadic youth, Cistern evokes adventure and the forces of nature. Landing closer to film scores and instrumental post-rock than to the quirkier chamber pop of Composed, Cistern doesn't play out like a sequel, but fans of that album may well find themselves still drawn to the musician's particular spark. ~ Marcy Donelson
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