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Surface Tensions

...a deliciously ambitious recasting of the electric guitar...

-- Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle 

[Recording available from Starkland Records]


Surface Tensions deals with the idea of sonic viscosity. Throughout the piece the same melody is always present, but not immediately clear. After the motive is presented in the small scratching sounds of the piano, a more deliberate presentation is played on vibraphone. This motive seems encased in a glacial sludge provided by the clarinet, cello, and guitar. Later, high note jabs in the piano and vibes are the beginnings of cracks in this rubbery glacier. 


Soon those fissures accumulate to become their own entity as more fluid forms of the melody are presented. Each section starts as a trickle in the section preceding it. When enough of the new material is present, these trickles become the focus rather than mere interjections.


Finally, there is a clear presentation of the melody in the cello. Then the scratching sounds from the opening return and the motive is presented in overlapping notes that build to a section where the fully realized melody is presented, raucously, by the entire group. The effect is as if one has watched the melody in clear water at a great depth. As it gets closer, it becomes clearer, until breeching in a way that is glistening, energetic, and chaotic.


Surface Tensions was commissioned and premiered by NakedEye Ensemble and released on their album “Storylines Crossing.”

Duration: ca9 minutes
Contact for parts 

Rusty Banks © 2015 (BMI)

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