Hi everyone! I’m very excited to release a brand new composition entitled Intimacy Negator (Feel Me) on Kid Smpl’s new online music series DISPLAY! I’ve decided to synchronise the release of this track with the launch of my brand new website, as I feel like it signals a definite change in my music-making, one which I am very happy and excited to be making. If you would like to listen to the piece, please click here.
I believe this composition is a notable follow-on from a few of my other recent projects, namely my Piano Concerto (Full body brace, completely broken body) and my solo piano & audiovisual electronics piece …without my wings… (The surface of the world is invisible from below). Both of these works are influenced by technology and my own analysing of its relationship with myself and the wider world, which is something that is massively filtering in to my compositional thought process at the moment. Therefore, I wanted to take the time to expand upon the pieces in question and briefly delve into how I have been using this concept to make music.
I felt like writing Intimacy Negator (Feel Me) was an incredibly necessary thing for me to undertake. It comes from contemplating the way in which I, or my generation, engages with technology and how this affects the way we engage with the world around us; more specifically, the effect of being geographically separated from people in my personal life, as well as from fellow global artistic friends, and how technology is used to transcend this distance in order to communicate. It explores both the beauty of this way of living in terms of being perpetually connected to the world via a range of social media outlets and various methods of text, audial and visual communication, as well as the longing for a greater sense of intimacy, which, at present, technology both mediates and negates.
For me, this failure for technology to connect us on an emotional level exposes one of its many flaws, the issue that technology has never been able to fully satisfy deep human needs, leaving us to slowly become more and more technologically cold and dependent, maybe even semi-cyborgian (for more on this, listen to Tristan Harris' TED talk on technological distraction here). Additionally, technology contains flaws that have been unknowingly and instinctively programmed deep in to its complex coded infrastructure by human error. Consequently, to sidestep the stereotypical view of technology as something clinical and perfected, I choose to concentrate on the fact that just like its creators, it is riddled with errors (or idiosyncracies) that are possible to excavate from underneath its super-slick, 4K surface.
Alongside various other ideas, this concept links the two aforementioned concert-music pieces together. ...without my wings... (The surface of the world is invisible from below) wrings a DIY Britney acapella through a volatile audio-to-MIDI converter to create decorous, pixelated piano material. This process hides the original melody underneath a mesh of incorrectly-converted notes that arise from instrumental detritus that wasn't removed in the original acapella-making process, and through the resonant frequencies of Britney's voice that evaded the audio-to-midi conversion. Conversely, my Piano Concerto (Full body brace, completely broken body) concentrates on highlighting the flaws in the untrained voice through the use of crass autotune on a pianist who also sings, and through electronic samples of myself singing when I was ill with glandular fever, significantly inhibiting my voice. Additionally, the orchestra sings and whistles, taking their notes from the pitches given on instruments; the instrumentalists' untrained voices, normally hidden because of confidence issues, are put on a pedestal to celebrate the flaws that make them so special.
Furthermore, on a side-note, both ...without my wings... and Intimacy Negator take either lyrical or titling cues from a stunning piece of video art by German filmmaker Harun Farocki entitled Parallel I-IV (a clip of which can be seen here). According to the Whitechapel Gallery, "the work charts the evolution of computer game graphics over 30 years ... [t]he rapid technological progression from the earliest symbolic forms to the realism of the present day". Similar to my own thoughts, it focuses on the glitches and code that signify the artificiality of computer generated environments, rendering them synthetic and unable to reach the unequivocal photorealism that they strive for. Farocki himself said that "there is the wind that blows and the wind that is produced by a wind machine. Computer images do not have two kinds of wind"; this quote stuck with me because of its meditative beauty and loaded bluntness, and led me to begin exploring the musicality of flaws in both the artificial, simulated world, and the real world itself.
I feel very privileged to be releasing this following some incredible compositions by both Eaves and Kid Smpl on DISPLAY, and I am surely looking forward to seeing what other exciting artists take up the challenge of writing one 10-15min electronic track for the label; it's definitely a music series to keep your eyes on. Additionally, scores and audio recordings of both concert pieces mentioned in this post are linked below, as well as an image containing the lyrics to Intimacy Negator (Feel Me):
Piano Concerto (Full body brace, completely broken body): recording // score
…without my wings… (The surface of the world is invisible from below): score