Bissonnette and Wenngren – The Meridians of Latitude and the Parallels of Longitude (2011)


Wow. Certainly quite a mouthful, the title of this release. I had to double check it to make sure I got my meridians and parallels the right way round. This is a drone album from the minds of David Wenngren, aka Library Tapes, and a long time favourite of mine Christopher Bissonnette.

Two weeks ago I (foolishly) caught the last train out of Euston on my return journey from KSIA, a train that did not return me home fully and left me stranded in the cold, dark and wet confines of Northampton station’s platform 2 for three hours. To make matters worse, it was 2am at the time.

Sitting on that cold metal bench was, let me tell you, one hell of a tough experience. I was uncomfortable, cold, shattered and the prospect of home and bed was hovering tantalisingly on the horizon. Yet there is something about anticipation, especially the eagerness to get away from something less than pleasant, that makes time behave oddly, frustratingly. Times slows to a painfully aware crawl, unaided by your frequent glances at the clock, and in that situation where there is little in the way of distraction or entertainment the wait is maddening.

But its funny, isn’t it, that when you’re on a long journey you just stare out of the window for ages. It’s that odd sensation of being in limbo; you’re in transit, in between places and with precious little else to keep you occupied, you gaze in resignation at the passage of the outside world. Time doesn’t work properly while you’re in this little bubble but it’s a different kind of broken; it expands and contracts, with seconds feeling like minutes all smearing in to one another, and when it’s all over you have no recollection of what transpired and it all seems like a blur, like it all happened at once. This is exactly the aura Meridians exudes.

Rich and densely textured drones hover and roll over each other. Violin fragments add another layer of depth to the drones and to that uneasy nature. Bissonnette works his magic by adding his own hyper-processed samples and recordings; curiously organic noises of unknown origin, creakings and cracklings, a gentle fuzz. There’s no clear direction, there’s no clear structure, there’s no clear cut concept of what is being portrayed or imagined. All there is, is precisely defined and polished sounds that heave and thrum, contracting and dilating as our awareness (or perhaps interest) of the world around us weaves in and out.

I’m still not sure how to feel about this; I guess I’m still hanging out for a new, purely Bissonnette release, but there is a claustrophobically introverted vibe here that is both familiar and unsettling.