Michael Pisaro-Liu – Revolution Shuffle 2CD


We are in a period where revolutionary change (personal, political, environmental) is necessary and possible. Perhaps we are right now, without fully realizing it, in the midst of this transformation. The warning signs are everywhere. California (where I live) and other parts of the world are set on fire by environmental changes every summer. Young people struggle to live, let alone find the faith and courage to have children of their own. The world’s governments don’t even try to hide their support of the capitalist war of the oligarchy against the lower classes. Like most people, I’ve experienced these and other dramatic shifts in the past few years, starting even before the pandemic began.

It has been going on for a long time already. As Felix Guattari wrote in 1989, in The Three Ecologies:

“The Earth is undergoing a period of intense techno-scientific transformation. If no remedy is found, the ecological disequilibrium this has generated will ultimately threaten the continuation of life on the planet’s surface. Alongside these upheavals, human modes of life, both individual and collective, are progressively deteriorating. Kinship networks tend to be reduced to a bare minimum; domestic life is being poisoned by the gangrene of mass-media consumption; family and married life are frequently ‘ossified’ by a sort of standardization of behaviour; and neighbourhood relations are generally reduced to their meanest expression.”

The ecological, the political, the social and personal, and the artistic worlds are all connected.

It is in the mood of this immanent change that Revolution Shuffle came together. I looked for the sounds that reflected this mood (some from the distant past, some from just yesterday), in music I knew, scenes I watched, recordings of past events, references from friends. Along the way signs of hope spoke to me: the unforeseeable, 33-year task of building Watts Towers, the utopian, polysemic music of Don Cherry, the echoes of artistic revolutions, the desperate but courageous voices of people in the street, the rhythms of the dance, the careful but radical reasoning of political proposition, the voices of struggle and of love.

The piece is modular, a mosaic, but it has two forms. The arrangement of tracks on the two discs was carefully constructed to tell a story. But it is also an environment, one that can start and stop anywhere and perhaps tell a different story or at least a different version of the same story. Try it.

Thanks to Jon Abbey for getting me started on this project in 2018, and for keeping me going. When my energy for such a large and multifaceted piece of audio work flagged, Jon was there with comments and suggestions.

Thanks to Cherlyn Hsing Hsin Pisaro-Liu for her many hours of critical listening and discussion. Her comments at several points opened up potentials for the work that I could never have seen without them.

And thanks to the bricoleurs for inspiration: Simon Rodia, J Dilla, Rose Lowder, John Cage, Don Cherry, Susan Howe, DJ Screw, Charles Ives, Sarah Sze, The Situationists/Guy Debord, Bruce Conner, Louise Nevelson, Harry Smith/The American Anthology of Folk Music, Takashi Ito, Jennifer Bartlett …

All profits from this project will be donated to a related charity which we hope to announce soon.

Michael Pisaro-Liu, October 2021

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