Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ex-Easter Island Head

A Liverpool. UK based ensemble composing and performing music for solid-body electric guitar, percussion and other instruments. 

‘Mallet Guitars One’ is the debut release by Ex-Easter Island Head; a Liverpool based ensemble comprising on this record of three solid bodied electric guitars and two performers.

The record is three movements of shimmering drones, ghostly overtones and sustained consonances elicited through gradually changing rhythmic patterns played on the body of horizontally mounted guitars with percussion mallets. Utilising repetition, resonance and amplification, the music of Ex-Easter Island Head is poised between minimalist austerity and sonic density.

Recorded live in the cavernous roof space of a listed neo-classical church, the minutiae of three fixed chords are magnified by the resonant architecture of the building. Forming an ever changing surface over an unmoving centre, overtones are amplified and different timbres generated by changing percussive patterns, creating a soundscape that is immersive and organic.

Large Electric Ensemble is Ex-Easter Island Head’s first piece for massed electric instruments and drums.
Following on from Mallet Guitars Three for four guitars and three performers, Large Electric Ensemble sees the group expand to include twelve prepared electric guitars and drums to create a maximalist wash of amplified strings and droning overtones.
Commissioned by the first annual World Event Young Artist festival (WEYA) held in Nottingham, UK September 2012, the piece was developed alongside an ensemble of local musicians from a variety of musical backgrounds. Debuted at the festival and developed over further months, the piece was recorded completely live and with no overdubs across two days in March 2013.
Utilising ‘Third Bridge’ preparations - inserting metal rods beneath the guitar strings - and a range of alternate tunings the ensemble adopt a new vocabulary of playing, from billowing harp-like arpeggios to ‘bowing’ the strings with allen keys to produce glinting upper register drones. Microtonal intervals create shimmering difference tones akin to the struck metallophones of Balinese gamelan, whilst electrified strings creates a dense undertow of singing harmonies. Scored in custom notation and balancing aleatoric passages alongside conductor cues, the players collectively create a distinctive sonic landscape allying languid textural drift with muscular, mechanistic forward motion.