Erik Griswold – Yokohama Flowers

Room40 stalwart Erik Griswold returns with his latest collection of works for prepared piano…

For over two decades, Griswold has been crafting a particular and utterly personal language around his instrument of choice. His preparations, which are in a state of perpetual refinement, are like a kind of lens; it is through them that a certain audio reading of his instrument is made possible.

It’s understandable then that Griswold would be inspired by the work of Australian experimental film maker Louise Curham. Like Griswold, she too reveals a very personal reading of her surroundings through a range of preparations and expanded techniques. Discovering her work through a series of collaborations hosted by Room40, Other Film and other groups, the pair slowly developed a strong ap-proach to joint performance.

In many ways, these recorded works reflect upon those performances. Similar to her filmic works, which maintain an unfamiliar, yet tangible beauty; Griswold’s compositions remind us that the piano is never truly knowable, or known. Each composition collected here reveals another detail or way of knowing the piano. The preparations release something in excess of the instrument itself.

It’s in these extensions, these ruptures of familiarity, that the language of the piano is born and reborn. It is a state of perpetual discovery and resolution, framed in composition.

“There’s a mystical aura surrounding my old piano. I imagine the 19th century workshop in which it was hand-crafted and the German parlours in which it played Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, Satie, or Joplin. I imagine its journey from Stuttgart, by ship to Sydney harbour, and overland to the semi-tropical heat of Brisbane. Playing it I feel connected to its 131 years of history – the people, places and music that have come before.

The beautiful, hand treated super 8 films of Louise Curham are a perfect visual counterpoint to my mu-sic. In her Yokohama Flowers, a sense of fragility, intimacy and nostalgia emerges from the superposi-tion of location footage with delicately hand-drawn and painted layers. Her method closely mirrors my own, which combines tactile exploration at the piano keyboard with layering of foreign materials (preparations) onto the strings. By altering and repurposing old technologies in this way, it is as if we are squeezing the last drops of nectar out of these fading flowers.” – Erik Griswold

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