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From Nine Seconds Above Taco Heaven

composition for violin, vibraphone, bass paetzold recorder, unamplified electric guitar, sound diffusion, and a reader

This video above was made from a live recording of my composition From Nine Seconds Above Taco Heaven(for Violin, Vibraphone, Bass Paetzold Recorder, Unamplified Electric Guitar, Sound Diffusion and a Reader) being performed by Drift Ensemble. This recording here intersects with a video composed of still images taken throughout the two day rehearsal period preceding the piece's premier on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at St Pauls Hall in Huddersfield.

From Nine Seconds Above Taco Heaven:

I recently revisited San Antonio, Texas, the city I grew up in, after a very long time. Each evening, on the balcony of the place I was staying, I listened. Opening the french doors to the balcony, the artificially chilled air of the hotel created a vacuum into which rushed thick hot waves of humid memory, washing across my face. As this subsided, the complex carpet of sound all around came into focus. Crickets, constantly, a distant rushing, always with changing modulation, the too and fro swishing of the swaying trees, an electrical hum, intermittent, and yet when present, static. The environment stratified itself, layers emerged their edges blurring and redefining themselves.

Repeated listenings on subsequent nights lent awareness of certain characteristics that remained invariant. The atmosphere of this environment, both ever changing and yet structurally somehow consistent, tattooed itself into my memory, and it is the soundscape most of all, even more so than the heat, and above anything visible, that characterizes my memory of these expanded moments of nightly listening.

I made several recordings. One of these, a 9 second recording, rendered the strong presence of the wholeness of this atmosphere palpable while not sacrificing any detail from the record of the independent constituent parts that made it up. I began working this recording, slowly moving it, along with myself, into present experience, and further and further away from the time it served to document. As I took the recording to pieces, I was not surprised to find that my memory of this experience was not to be located in a specific timbre or harmonic region within the recording. However, I was surprised to find that isolated regions of the recording induced recall of aspects of these evenings on the balcony that I had not been reminded of previously. Indeed, perhaps that I had not been aware of these even as I experienced them the first time. The potential of these discoveries and their relationship to my other recent artworks and research soon led me to put aside previous sketches for a piece I had been working on. I decided instead to pursue a work with Drift that would take as its subject paradoxes at the centre of experiences of recorded experience. Reacting to the psychological space between my own experience of listening on the balcony, my memories of this, and my present work with this recorded media artefact, I began to work into, over, and against the recording. The result is fabricated by Drift ensemble when the piece is enacted live. This process is akin to simultaneously magnifying and “zooming out” of the recording. On the one hand, parts are derived from minutae taken from analyzed layers of sound, aspects important to the constitution of the soundscape while not direct mimicry of any of sounds within it, nor of their causal processes. Through these steps, individual moments spent on a balcony in Texas are taken further from not only the time and place of their constitution as experience, but also from me. It is as if the sounds are synthesized from simulacra, transcending mimicry, composed around a somewhat unintentional documentation of a fleeting moment immanent, with this moment, in a definition of their own time.

​This piece was commissioned by and composed for Drift Ensemble:

Drift Ensemble (Pablo Galaz , Paola Muñoz Manuguián, Cristian Morales Ossio, Ilona Krawczyk, Colin Frank , Irine Røsnes) is a group of artists specialising in performance of contemporary music who are united by the common vision for creative process through collaboration, fusion between the acoustic, digital and analogue instruments, and synthesis between improvisation and written music. DRIFT is passionately dedicated to promoting equality in all contexts of their work, aiming to curating gender balanced programmes, supporting unknown and unrepresented composers and minorities in the field. A composer-performer collective, DRIFT ENSEMBLE is dedicated to the exploration of new ways of imagining and creating sound. Finding their home at the University of Huddersfield, DRIFT entangles newest research in the field of contemporary music with the creative practice and dedicated to a positive contribution to Yorkshire’s thriving music scene.

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