Written for Jack Dettling, FLESH is a work for vocalizing pianist and electronics conceived as a series of images: a long, pensive walk in a faraway city; a simple song relentlessly and violently interrupted; a train barreling toward an unknown destination; a computer that studied poetry with Christopher Knowles; an uneasy coexistence of the sacred and the profane (a Bach chorale and 1980's shock radio); and, finally, the frenetic energy of an amusement park tamed by the vagaries of a wandering mind.
FLESH is my attempt to depict both the serendipitous beauty and arbitrary danger, even violence, of the technological age. Using both generative processes and extreme noise, the computer creates sonic environments that the pianist must try to navigate. The generative processes consist of decisions made by the computer to produce not only combinations of sounds but also musical notation and poetic texts that the pianist incorporates into his performance in real time. These texts are not intended to be audible throughout the work, but rather considered as another strain of sonic information in a constantly evolving musical texture. While the extreme noise in FLESH initially appears to be a recurring sign of something ominous, it was my hope that it would become, at length, something more mysterious and ambiguous, a kind of terrifying ecstasy.