Composed in 1999, Recorded in 2001
Performed by Annie Gosfield (sampler); Roger Kleier (guitar); Ikue Mori (electronics); Jim Pugliese and Sim Cain (drums and factory percussion)
From the CD "Flying Sparks and Heavy Machinery"
EWA7 was inspired by machine and factory sounds; the scrapes, squeaks, and bangs of metal, the ambient buzzes and whines of electric devices, and the imperfect rhythmic repeats of heavy machinery. Most of the music was developed in 1999 during a six-week residency in the factories of Nuremberg, Germany, in a program sponsored by the Siemens Corporation designed to "combine art and industry" My work in Nuremberg included visiting many factories, observing and listening to all types of machinery, and recording sounds on site. I was particularly fascinated by the ever-changing sonic landscapes that occur in each factory as sounds shift, overlap, and echo in the distance. A critical part of the residency was the opportunity to listen: what I initially heard as a mass of cacophonous factory noise gradually revealed itself to be a beautifully complex amalgam of layered textures and timbres. The sound of a buzzsaw's rising harmonic grind would emerge out of the quiet ambient hum of fluorescent lights, for example, only to be obliterated by random arhythmic crashes and bangs from a huge metal press. Machine rhythms went in and out of phase, dynamics varied wildly, and in an environment of constantly shifting activity and noise, the frequency spectrum fluctuated from sub-audio rumbles to barely audible high-pitched whines.
EWA7 was premiered by my ensemble in the EWA7 factory in Nuremberg. It is comprised of many overlapping pieces with varying instrumentation, from short sequential solo sections to larger works for the full ensemble. Much of the musical materials used in this piece are derived from actual machine sounds that I recorded on site in many different factories, and then sampled for use in live performance. Driving machine samples, layers of ambient noise, crashing metal and electronic blips and bleeps all meld and collide, evoking the clamor and din of a journey through a grimy working factory. Each musician's interpretation has been critical in the development of this group of pieces, which ranges from short improvisatory solos to fully composed works. We recorded the basic tracks at a studio in Brooklyn that was conveniently located upstairs from two metal fabricating shops, whose owners generously loaned us huge sheets of metal, welding tanks, lengths of steel tubing, and a variety of discarded bits and pieces, which we incorporated into our ever-growing percussion set-up.