Programme Note

The form and rhythmic structure of skin is closely based on (generated with, even) the following poem by Eugenio Montale (1896-1981), as translated by William Arrowsmith:

Ciò che di me sapeste
non fu che la scialbatura,
la tonaca che riveste
la nostra umana ventura.

Ed era forse oltre il telo
l'azzurro tranquillo;
vietava il limpido cielo
solo un sigillo.

O vero c'era il falòtico
mutarsi della mia vita,
lo schiudersi d'un'ignita
zolla che mai vedrò.

Restò così questa scorza
la vera mia sostanza;
il fuoco che non si smorza
per me si chiamò: l'ignoranza.

Se un'ombra scorgete, non è
un'ombra--ma quella io sono.
Potessi spiccarla da me,
offrirvela in dono.

What you knew of me
was only a whitened skin,
the cowl that cloaks
our human destiny.

And perhaps behind the blue veil
the air was blue and still;
between me and the clear sky
lay a simple seal.

Or else it was that wildfire
changing of my life,
the disclosure of the kindled clod
I'll never see.

So then this husk remained
my true substance;
the name of unquenched fire
for me was--ignorance.

If you glimpse a shade,
it's not a shade--it's me.
If I could strip that shade away,
I'd give it to you, gladly.

Technical Details

Along with amplification, sound file playback, and diffusion, the computer is used to perform real-time granular synthesis (with transposition) of the viol signal using a custom Max/MSP external written by the composer. The viol part was made using the composer's slippery chicken algorithmic composition software, as were the pre-prepared sounds triggered during the piece (using the same data and algorithms as the viol part, as well as sounds from that part as input to the sound processing).


The nature of the piece is a reaction to a reaction from Mark Summers when he was considering whether to play a previously-written cello piece of mine: "Don't you ever write any long notes?"

Long notes combined with unnatural playing techniques create the potential for all kinds of wonderful failures over and over again. Rather than be avoided, these are desired, amplified, and celebrated. There is beauty there. As well as a detached structural rigour applied almost remotely, coldly, like destruction at a distance, technical sophistication applied to ugly, violent ends.

Which naturally leads to:



and so I finally come back to britain with a real job paying real taxes and what do the bastards spend them on in my name? : bombing the shit out of some poor oppressed people several thousand miles away (as always)

and with a view to robbing them (as always)

and calling it "acts of liberation" (as usual)

and still calling this a democracy (as if)

pisses me off

yeah right 51st state land of the free (free to
shut up
put up
fuck up (collectively of course))

I really tried I did I tried to concentrate on beauty even found myself a nice poem didn't work though it came out really nasty this time shocked even me felt like dr (dj?...nah) frankenstein

consumed by monstrous algorithms

yeah skin

shards of it

dripping off your neighbours' wall

imagine that and tell me you still want those bombs

(it's not the actual crime of this war that gets to me most it's the boundless cynical audacity of their lies so-called reasons justifications imagine them sitting in their clinically secure offices marketing their abominations "[laughing] oh come on no one could believe that" "damn straight they're gonna believe it 'cause we got the best goddamn pr firm ever existed an' if they can sell bud to beer lovers..." (substitute suitably stiff limey equivalent for the downing street version)

saddest thing is they (we!) do believe

because that's what makes it possible again and again and again (and again))