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Bill Brovold - Pi
DVD (Ulster Park, NY)


Concept and guitars: Bill Brovold
Video and computer graphics: Daniel Liss
Front cover is a detail from the installation "pi" made of over 600
wooden carvings of the number sequence made and photographed by
Bill Brovold

(Disaster Amnesiac) Let's take some time to step away from live shots of various SF Bay Area improvising musicians, shall we? Disaster Amnesiac received Bill Brovold's new release, pi, on DVD from Public Eyesore a few weeks back, and I've had some time now to sit in front of the tube and take it in. Let me just say, it's a lot to take in! pi is the result of Brovold's work in education. It stems from building projects that are utilized as a means to teach math to children. These projects involve guitars that are tuned to specific pitches and struck in sequences of ten. I can't really explain it too well, but essentially what happens from this action is that a sequence of pi emerges from it. It would be fascinating to actually have Brovold do an interview and explain it in a better way, that's for sure! Hmmm....... As for the sounds of pi, what the listener is treated to is a five hour meditative-sounding coil of chiming guitar tones, struck with gracefully patient strokes. It's been quite fun for me to ponder these tones as they tail off and mingle with sounds either emerging from subsequent strokes or previous strokes. These blends are hypnotic as they shift from spare to dense, depending on where within the sequence of strokes they are positioned. Disaster Amnesiac would recommend the listener move around within the environment in which pi is being presented, as I've definitely noticed differences in timbre as the sounds have been reflected off of diverse surfaces within my space. Bring your deep listening mind, as its perceptions will be rewarding for the patience. pi being a DVD, its graphics should also be mentioned. Designed by Daniel Liss, they present simple graphic fields, say orange-red or teal or lavender, with the numbers 1 through 9 (plus 0, is 0 a number?) placed at their middle. My screen is of a decent width, and noticeable is the richness of the shades of these seemingly simple colors, along with how nice the chosen font of the numbers is. One can stare at these fields for hours as they move from one to another. The experience is akin to washing waves lap up to earth or grasses swaying within the wind. It's Disaster Amnesiac's hope that pi has had a chance to have been presented within a gallery space or two, as that would be its natural habitat. It would be so cool to walk into a darkened space with big screens and really great audio systems and be confronted by it there. That said, it's worth having within one's home habitat as well. Load up your player and allow yourself to be transfixed for a while. - Mark Pino
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