Large Electric Ensemble is Ex-Easter Island Head's fourth release on Low Point and their first piece for massed electric guitars and percussion.
Following on from Mallet Guitars Three, Large Electric Ensemble sees the group expand to include twelve prepared electric guitars and drums to create a vast wash of amplified strings and droning overtones.
Commissioned for the first World Event Young Artists (WEYA) festival held in Nottingham, UK, during September 2012, the piece was developed alongside an ensemble of local musicians from a variety of musical backgrounds. Following its WEYA debut, the piece was developed over subsequent months before being recorded live in March 2013. Utilising third bridge preparations (inserting metal rods beneath the guitar strings) and a range of alternate tunings across the ensemble, the piece combines propulsive, rhythmic minimalism with chorusing attacks of massed harmonics.
Across four movements, the ensemble adopt a new vocabulary of playing based around various guitar preparations, from billowing harp-like arpeggios to 'bowing' the strings with allen keys to produce luminous upper register drones. Microtonal intervals create shimmering tones akin to the struck metallophones of Balinese gamelan, whilst the thrum of electrified strings creates a dense undertow of singing harmonies. Scored in custom notation the piece places free flowing passages alongside conductor cues, allowing the players to collectively create a distinctive sonic landscape.
Beginning with a strident accumulation of ringing chords underpinned by the metronomic pulse of a ship's bell, the final chord of the first movement is stretched to infinity across the slowly growing storm of the second. Evolving from impressionistic ambience to tumultuous clamour, movements three and four lock into a pulsing continuum of contrapuntal chords, rapidly building momentum until the final crescendo.