Lockdown Tape #33 presents Chikako Morishita - Skin, Gelatine, Soot (2013) for bass clarinet played by Carl Rosman.
In April 2013 I had a brief residency at the University of Huddersfield, performing a solo concert on one evening, including two pieces by senior students, and a workshop with other students the following morning. Chikako was one of the student composers for the evening concert and had sent me at the beginning of February a 14-bar draft of materials she was contemplating. And then, two weeks before the concert, this 18-minute, five-movement epic arrived, so I rubbed my hands with glee and got to work. (The recording of the premiere is on youtube, with attached score; a studio recording, made in Ensemble Musikfabrik’s rehearsal space, is on a CD from Huddersfield Contemporary Records, alongside pieces by Aperghis, Barrett, Cassidy, Kagel and Saunders.)
Chikako’s title comes from the image of Japanese calligraphy on skin, contemplating the memories that the substances involved in the process, all derived by various drastic processes from living things, might bring with them from their former existences. Her piece covers a wide range of textures, from gently unfolding recitatives, through more active figurations, to extended passages where she throws multiple simultaneous lines of music at the performer for them to navigate as best they can. It’s a reasonably daunting piece under any conditions; my most recent performance before making this video was in a temporary building without the benefit of air conditioning in a fierce Melbourne summer, which certainly encouraged my own contemplation of the experiences of the rendered animal components of Chikako’s calligraphic materials.
Carl Rosman, July 2020