The wreck of former boundaries (2016) for electric lap steel guitar & 5.1 channel electronics
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.