atopia (hyperamplified)

Alto flute, viola, vibraphone, live electronics.

The idea for atopia (hyperamplified) came to me when I was in Cairo in january 2004. I was staying in a flat whose kitchen overlooked the back of another flat, a wall just a few metres away. This created a strange acoustical effect especially for a few days when there was a strong sandy wind sweeping through the city. The combination of this strange and volatile drone coupled with the call to prayers coming from various directions in the neighbourhoud created a fascinating cascade of sound especially how it echoed outside the kitchen. This was the sound at the back of my mind when I started writing a piece for Trio Transport (Anne le Berge - alto flute, Barbara Luneberg - viola, Johan Faber - vibes) when I returned to Hollland.

The piece simply consists of drones of gradually evolving harmonies, tuned in 6th tones. The concept of the sound is that the instruments play on the whole as quietly as possible and are amplified to such a degree that they lose coherence and identity. It is the paradox of a far off sound closely miked and magnified. The instruments are also processed live with resonances and delays to create a spatial effect of a diffuse and immersive sound world. The piece lasts about 25 minutes and does requires a high degree of physical stamina and concentration from the musicians.

performance history

  • 12 May; Premiered by Trio Transport, Lantaren Venster, Rotterdam.
  • Further performances by Trio Berge, Edwards, Kanno in NL and UK, by Apartment House (UK) and by ICE Ensemble (US)
  • Recorded by Anne La Berge, Tatiana Koelva and Elisabeth Smalt on Antichamber, UNSOUNDS 21U

The piece is recorded on the Antichamber CD available from Unsounds.

Antichamber CD cover