Exposé Online banner

Erik Griswold — Ecstatic Descent
(Cold Blue CB0047, 2017, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2017-02-12

Ecstatic Descent Cover art

Griswold is an Australia-based composer and pianist, with a number of previous releases on the Australian experimental music label Room 40. His interests lie in hybrid sound combinations and unusual intersections of music and sound. Ecstatic Descent (also the title of the single 41-minute track) is his first release for Cold Blue Music, a creation on prepared piano, which in Griswold’s world means adding paper, rubber, screws, cardboard strips, and bolts at the harmonic nodes of various strings, changing the tone color and altering the pitch. Keys that are not used are taped down, or muted. The result is a piano that sounds more like a collection of percussion devices than a conventional piano. When I listen to this, I am reminded of a summer afternoon I spent resting in the parking lot of a Japanese nursery in Cupertino, California, windows down, in the immediate vicinity of several wind wheels that would trigger percussive sounds as they turned, rotating at different speeds and responding to changes in the speed of the wind by either turning faster, or sometimes stopping altogether. Here, as it did there, the sounds start gently and somewhat randomly, drawing your attention in, eventually encompassing more sounds at greater volume levels and a variety of different timbres, some moving more quickly and others managing at a different pace. There is rhythm, but it’s random and not at all periodic or unified for all sounds together, what the composer calls ‘rhythmic clustering’ and it seems to reflect many of the rhythmic patterns of nature. As the piece progresses and builds, more sounds joining those before them slowly build to a crescendo just around the 20 minute mark, then everything stops for a moment of silence, and then various elements of the percussive chorus reintroduce themselves and stop again at random intervals, much when like the gusts of wind would start and stop on that summer afternoon at the nursery. Ecstatic Descent is first and foremost an interesting composition borne of an alternate soundworld, but even if the listener chooses not to pay close attention, it is nonetheless relaxing and captivating on the subliminal level.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Erik Griswold

Latest news

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more

2021-02-10
Chick Corea RIP – The sad news has reached us that Chick Corea has Returned to Forever, so to speak. The innovative keyboardist and composer died on February 9 at the age of 79. With a career that spanned from the 60s until shortly before his death, Corea touched many listeners with the incredible variety of music he produced in his lifetime. » Read more

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Bill Bruford with Ralph Towner and Eddie Gomez - If Summer Had Its Ghosts – When Bill Bruford is on break from his drum duties with King Crimson, what would you expect him to do? Should he go on vacation or work in another less hectic, but rewarding mode? If Summer Had Its...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues