The wreck of former boundaries (electric lap steel guitar and electronics)




instrumentation: electric lap steel guitar & 5.1 channel electronics
date: 2015
duration: 8’00
details: 13 pages, including performance instructions; A4 landscape; full color. (Purchased copies include the Max/MSP performance patch, which can be acquired through the Contact form at the bottom of this page.) 

From The wreck of former boundaries (2016), a network of pieces for 2 trumpet soloists, clarinet, alto saxophone, trombone, electric lap steel guitar, double bass, & 5.1 channel electronics. Commissioned by the RMIT Gallery for its Sonic Arts Collection.

Programme Note

The wreck of former boundaries, for electric lap steel guitar and 5.1-channel electronics, is part of a larger conglomerate of works—each sharing the same title—that includes a range of solo works, small chamber works, works for electronics, and an extended ensemble work for two trumpet soloists, clarinet, saxophone, trombone, electric lap steel guitar, double bass, and multichannel electronics, ranging in duration from six to 35 minutes.

The electronic material throughout the network of pieces comes from recordings of earlier pieces of mine written for and/or recorded by the players of ELISION (in this case, most of the original audio comes from Diego Castro Magas’s performance of my electric guitar piece, The Pleats of Matter), which are processed and distorted in a variety of ways, including through my own improvisations with several gestural, touch-sensitive digital interfaces. That processed audio is treated as ‘found material’—in a sense, severed from its previous identities and histories—chopped up, rearranged, repurposed, and superimposed to create new multi-channel, fixed-media audio. This audio then itself becomes found material, the instrumental work written in reaction to the electronics, again through a trial-and-error approach not dissimilar to the methods used to create the electronic material in the first place. (And then these solo and chamber works themselves accumulate, mosaic-like, to form the overall structure for the larger ensemble work.)

In many ways, this piece for lap steel guitar is a counterbalance to The Pleats of Matter, a work that dramatically prioritised a tablature notation to the point that its material was entirely physical and choreographic, without any specification of what the sounds of the piece should be, the soundworld left entirely to the performer’s discretion. Here, I’ve written very specifically for Daryl Buckley’s unique collection of (predominately analog) effects pedals, with an aim of imagining those pedals as the instrument, occasionally to the point that the pedals seem to take on something of a life of their own. It is through those pedals and their interaction with the electronics that the material of the piece emerges … sometimes balletic and pirouetting, sometimes gelatinous and oozing, sometimes grinding and raucous, sometimes metallic and flickering, sometimes brutal and obliterated.

The work was commissioned by the RMIT Gallery Sonic Arts Collection, with assistance from the SIAL electronic music studio at RMIT University. Significant additional support was provided by the University of Huddersfield, including the studios of the Huddersfield Immersive Sound System (HISS) and the University Research Fund.



Ginger Studios, Melbourne, 12 April 2018. One of three amps (spread over two rooms) for the recording session.

Ginger Studios, Melbourne, 12 April 2018. One of three amps (spread over two rooms) for the recording session, including a homemade ‘sub’ mic.

Daryl Buckley, Ginger Studios, Melbourne, 12 April 2018.

Alistair McLean, Jimi Lloyd-Wyatt, and Daryl Buckley, Ginger Studios, Melbourne, 12 April 2018.

Screen shot from the mixing of the studio recording. More tracks than is probably reasonable for a solo piece.

With Daryl Buckley at the launch of the ELISION@30 exhibit at RMIT Gallery, with a large print of the Wreck score on the wall in the background

At the launch of the ELISION @ 30 exhibit, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, with Daryl Buckley (ELISION) and Suzanne Davies (RMIT Gallery), who commissioned the work.

Testing pedal settings and combinations in early development sessions in Melbourne, September 2015

Wreck lap steel sketches

Wreck lap steel sketches

Wreck lap steel sketches


Early development sessions with Daryl Buckley, working on various pedal settings at RMIT’s SIAL studios.


Daryl Buckley, electric lap steel guitar. City Recital Hall, Sydney, Australia. August 25, 2018. 

Daryl Buckley, electric lap steel guitar. Redland Performing Arts Centre Concert Hall, Queensland, Australia. May 11, 2018. 

ELISION, Daryl Buckley, electric lap steel guitar (Richard Barrett, electronics). Studio M, Novi-sad, Serbia. November 25, 2016. November 26, 2016.

Daryl Buckley, electric lap steel guitar. Storey Hall, RMIT University, September 21, 2016.

Daryl Buckley (ELISION), electric lap steel guitar. Metropolis New Music Festival 2016, Melbourne Recital Centre, Australia. May 10, 2016.