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John Mallia - Anastasis

Program Notes

Work realized in the Studios of the Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges / IMEB.

Anastasis is a five channel composition realized in the Studios of the Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges (IMEB). The work is programmatic in its representation of Christ's Descent into Limbo, a frequently treated subject in Medieval art. The majority of sounds used are derived from concrète sources, some of which carry conceptual weight. For example, the recurring sound of wax being scraped away from the metal surface of the candle trays at Bourges ' Cathedral St. Étienne: the residue of prayer — its removal, a daily chore (or performance ritual) captured in sound. Also, the emergence of a field recording of windmills at the work's close: transformation, by man, of nature's breath into energy as a storm blows in on the mountainside.

The piece itself is a stormy, transformative descent. Sounds of friction and resistance represent the interpenetration of spheres of existence. Long intense strokes of sound such as the dragging of wood along wood, glass on glass, and the grinding and scraping of metal against metal are fractured by abrupt, pointed declamations which lead, ultimately, to a representation of the breaking of the gates of hell. The only purely electronic sounds used in the composition are dense, bristling textures that occur as interruptions of the long descent. They represent the accumulation of a mysterious, electrical energy in the empty tomb above — static glimpses of that middle sphere.

Technical notes:

The orchestration of sound objects in the field of five loudspeakers adheres to an elastic gravitational plan assigned to each point in space. Generally speaking, the field of five speakers is “weighted” so that rear point sources support sounds lower in pitch than those occuring in the front of the projection plane where frequencies are raised. The relationship between each point source and its corresponding interval of transposition is in constant flux and its size serves to emphasize the degree of spatial depth present at any given moment. Sound sources are decorrelated to support and exaggerate the listener's experience of space.

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