Experimental hardware-based live performance electronic drone piece.
Composer: Mike Olson
I’ve always been very interested in the idea of limitations when it comes to creating music. Whenever I start work on a new piece, I begin by establishing meaningful limitations to work within. I find this to be very freeing. (Stravinsky was right when talked about the freedom of limits.) Last Summer I did a live electronic music performance that involved a large amount of equipment in an elaborate setup. At some point shortly after that performance while discussing it with a friend, I mentioned, (kind of half jokingly) that I could do an effective live performance with a Quad Oscillator and a wah wah pedal. Though I had meant it as a joke, the more I thought about the idea of working within that kind of extreme limitation, the more attracted I was to the idea. So, I set about creating this piece.
Murmurations of the Krell is improvisational, though it is following a general plan and has been rehearsed. I would call this an experimental electronic drone piece. The only sound source being used is a Quad Oscillator that was built by Tim Kaiser. It has only a single output that I am splitting multiple times and running through a couple of loopers and various hardware signal processors, (including a wah wah pedal). The piece is notable for what it does not use. There is no computer, no sequencer, no keyboard or other conventional musical instrument interface. Just knobs, switches, faders and pedals. I found this to be a challenging set of limitations, but at the same time, stimulating.
The title of the work is a direct reference to the classic 1956 sci-fi film, “Forbidden Planet”. In this film, the Krell were an ancient, long-extinct race of beings with highly advanced technology – a technology which eventually lead to their own demise. The electronic score for the film was created by Bebe and Louis Barron, and I feel that some of the general aesthetic character of my piece is evocative of their work.