Relics of this Black Earth

Relics of this Black Earth (2017) is a suite for repurposed metal percussion instruments, music box, oil drums, and electronics, in four movements: Black EarthEmergencyExit Wound, and Relics. Commissioned by Skewed and Such the suite is included as part of their project Pillars of Decay. Composed during my artist residency with Salem Art Works (NY), the suite is closely related to my interactive sonic and sculptural installation also titled Exit Wound

Mvt. I, Black Earth
For music box, oil drum and sheet metal amplifiers, metal plates, and electronics
Mvt. II, Emergency
For bullet chimes, emergency (Mylar) paper, small metal plates, teats, metal quilt, and augers
Mvt. III, Exit Wound
For junk metal bowls, oil drums, metal plates, and electronics
Mvt. IV, Relics
For skewed glockenspiel, oil drums, metal plates, and electronics

Embracing both the discarded and the hyper new, Relics of this Black Earth documents a moment in rural America through field recordings, close-up photography, and found percussion. Each movement uses both repurposed metal objects and technology in unique ways. The field recordings for Black Earth embrace the dynamic weather changes surrounding my resonant workspace at SAW in upstate New York, interwoven with a melody composed for a reimagined glockenspiel.  My photography—vivid textural details of metal in various states of decay—was reworked to create the visual score for Emergency, a tapestry of harsh metals: bullet chimes, emergency paper, small metal plates, teats, a metal quilt, and augers. Exit Wound uses technology by turning oil drums and large metal sheets into transducers and resonators and creating an interactive electronic feedback loop of live-captured sound during the performance. The field recordings for Relics contrapuntally interweave the sound environment of my installation Exit Wound with a skewed glockenspiel melody (built out of repurposed metals).

Relics of this Black Earth was created for the project Pillars of Decay, a setting of music created for post-consumer instruments fabricated from salvage and scrap materials, realized and enhanced with technology. Created in stages over a series of workshops from 2014–2017, Pillars has toured both traditional concert spaces and rehabilitated venues in cities across North America’s Midwest and East Coast. The project celebrates the local individuals and communities that have found new purposes for the discarded buildings, facilities, and materials in their neighborhoods. Pillars of Decay, with compositions by Jeff Herriott, Trevor Saint, Matt Sargent, and Amanda Schoofs, will be released on the new music label Irritable Hedgehog in 2019.

Relics of this Black Earth featuring Trevor Saint, percussion and Jeff Herriott, electronics

photo credit: Paul Mitchell