Pain Avoidance Machine

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““In late 2014, feeling stifled by the negativity of the Australian political discourse, the narcissistic excess of social media, and facing a long summer of migraine-inducing heat, I turned to the prepared piano as a refuge. 

I was coming out of an intense two-year period of composing for every conceivable instrumental combination, and not sure where to go next. I felt the need to get back to basics, and create something essential, elemental. These pieces are meditations, each with its own mood, but constructed in a similar way. The piano is the pain avoidance machine.” – Erik Griswold

Erik Griswold, the American born, Australian based composer is a master of the pre- pared piano. Over the past two decades he has forged a deeply personal approach to transforming the piano from a tonal hammered instrument into a device that transgresses acoustic music traditions. Uniting robotic rhythms of almost electronic timbre, uncharacteristic evocative melody and metallic murmurs, he transforms the piano with a restless and rigorous curiosity.

Pain Avoidance Machine, his first solo for Room40 in half a decade is an intimate set of miniatures. You are invited inside the piano, exposed to the instruments raw materiality. Griswold offers an invitation to explore the prepared piano’s sound world in detail that reveals an entirely new dimension. Mechanistic motifs and rhythms are layered one atop another to create fragile musical collages.

Like a broken pianola, the subtle nuances of the prepared piano have an off-kilter quality, full of unexpected resonances, buzzes, and percussive strikes.