A metronome is set free into its world of control and cymbals are struck by the players' game of ping pong. Myriad ping pong balls coincide with the surrounding sheets of metal to set them into vibration in a way that Quix describes as "bounded randomness". It is sound as a result of something else happening. This approach is also present in the set-ups of various “games” that the performers enact. They must race against each other or cooperate following a precise set of rules, resulting in a different rendering each time.
In a recent conversation, Quix passionately described two ideas that run through this work. First is his interest in our distant past. Asking, "Who was the first musician?" he postulates that a human from 50,000 years ago replicated the sound of their own heart, as they hiked or hunted, by striking stones together. The percussionist performs this in the piece while pacing around the installation in what we might think of as a latent urge from our past.
The second idea originates from The Once and Future King by T. H. White, where Merlin lives backwards through time. When Merlin, aged 100, meets Arthur, aged 6, he is overjoyed with the encounter of his great friend but for Arthur it is the first time he has met the old wizard. It is this sense of looking back or looking in both directions at once that is crucial for Quix. We see this reflected in the written harpsichord notes which are taken from Bach's 25th Variation from Goldberg Variations, played here in retrograde and stripped of rhythm.
It is a work that sings of nostalgia for Baroque sensibilities, for the childhood world of playground games, for prehistoric existence. It is a work that nudges the question, "Is the past an easier time to make music?"
words by Tom Jackson