Aki Pasoulas
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Commentary

Wasteland

[First performed by Sophie Cox (mezzo), Amy Rhodes (ob), Nicola Evans (vn), Tom Lawrence (perc) and Nanae Nakagawa (pf) London 01.06.2002]

The piece is based on a poem I wrote in the early 1990s. The composition is a presentation of two opposites, a testimony of the conflict between industrialised society and nature. These two rivals are represented in two different ways; industrialised society is depicted by machinery, which involves regular and periodic sounds; whereas, nature incorporates unpredictable and partly uncontrollable sound events. The cyclical process of nature is portrayed by recurring themes and also by the overall form.

The two soundscapes transform from one to the other, or they merge into one. Nature is not entirely eliminated during machinery soundscapes, but it appears in the form of small formal units. Rhythmic motives of machinery also continue to appear throughout the manifestations of nature. Consequently, we witness the juxtaposition, but also the co-existence of the two opponents.

In addition to the two main entities of the composition there is a singing character, an 'insert' into the continuity of juxtaposed and superimposed soundscapes, who borrows elements from both machine and nature. The singer is confronted with the effects of the Machine. She either comments on what she sees and feels, much like Dante in Inferno, or she is absorbed by the landscape itself.

Before the end of the piece, we witness the agony of the industrialized society. Suddenly everything pauses. This event can be translated in different ways; either, there is a sudden awareness of the meaningless conflict; or, it signals the death of one of the two rivals; or just the end of another day.

2014© A. Pasoulas