Psycho Wood (2018)
For percussion quartet and tape
Fp Slagwerk Den Haag, Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2018, Het Huis Utrecht – Theaterzaal, Netherlands, 6.9.2018
Commissioned by Gaudeamus Muziekweek.
The work takes its inspiration from the psychedelic rock music of the 1960’s. While composing the piece, I was fascinated by the idea of combining two very contrasting materiaIs, wood and electronics, with each other. Wood being an organic material, and different forms of this material (from natural to processed, branches to paper) are juxtaposed and complemented with the very synthetic and ”unnatural” material of electronics. To intertwine these two materials together the wooden instruments are amplified and the wooden objects are also used in the electronics as modified recordings of branches cracking, leaves crumbling, paper tearing and so forth.
The electronic material of the tape is influenced by typical sounds from the psychedelic rock era (electronic organ, electronic guitar, tape delay, reverb, phaser, wah wah effects, etc). In addition to general sound references there are also direct references to psychedelic rock classics by The Beatles; ”Strawberry Fields Forever”, ”I Am The Walrus”, ”Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”,”Tomorrow Never Knows”, Jimi Hendrix ”Voodoo Child” and The Byrds classic ”Eight Miles High”. The references are barely recognizable but still important sources of inspiration for me when laying out the electronic part of the work and also some of the rhythmic gestures of the percussion parts.
The percussionists use only wooden instruments or instruments derived from wood. The instruments are self-made and collected from the Finnish forest and a junk garage and consist of wooden planks, logs, leaves, bark and branches. The only ready-made instruments and objects used are the wooden box (cajon) and paper sheets.
From a structural and experiential point of view the piece is following the phases of a LSD-trip described in the book ”The Psychedelic Experience” by Timothy Leary published in 1964, from which also The Beatles got its inspiration for their song ”Tomorrow Never Knows”. The trip is described in three phases being 1. The experience of the clear light 2. The period of hallucination and 3. Re-entry. The piece follows this three-part structure. In addition to the form, short, newly assembled phrases from the book are used as samples, modified and filtered, giving them a new poetic character and function in this work.