Writing Against Time (2014)
for two pianists, two percussionists, and electronics [20:40]


Time seems to slow when we perceive something for the first time. The moment of perception swells; the ‘fraction of time‘ expands… a gap opens between the time of the clock and neurobiological time… In such moments we get a glimpse of the splendor of eternal life, of unfading color, unerased sensation. But these dilations don’t last. What if they could?” [Michael Clune, Writing Against Time]

Writing Against Time, inspired by Micahel Clune’s book of the same name, is about “stopping time” – the sensation of suspension in an enveloping present, prolonging the wonder and enchantment of a new aesthetic discovery. The piece unfolds as a long single line, always pulling forward, resisting reference back to earlier moments. There is repetition and variation, but no development – an emphasis instead on surface details and transformations in color.

The quartet interacts with real-time electronics – a circle of speakers enveloping the audience, churning out a backdrop of spatialized and microtonally retuned sounds. Repeated patterns and hocketed rhythms create an intricate, colorful collage that draws on a range of disparate sources: an early Buddy Holly record, East African xylophone grooves, New Orleans carnival beats, strummed steel strings, and clanging pots from the streets of Istanbul during the Taksim protests…

Writing Against Time was written in conjunction with the Julius F. Jezek Prize, underwritten by the Harry and Alice Eiler Foundation. It was premiered 1 May 2014 by Yarn/Wire at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn—a live performance which is available on Yarn/Wire’s CD Currents, Vol. 1.