Skin. Skin. Skin.

Mysterious voice reveals a passage…
This passage…
a door to the space that has for far too long been left abandoned.
The unsettled dust that raises upon this opening, reveals the unexplored with each particle… uncertain whether it is a particle of light or dust, we feel drawn and obliged to follow and enter.
Enter the beast.
The beast that lies underneath.
Underneath of us.
Of our skin.
We enter the self.
And head on for exploring what is the being that is embodied with the skin.
What does this membrane hold… what is the boarder… is there a boarder… between the self and everything around… or is it just a permeable double faced membrane between the possible self and everything around. 

The remarkable sound world that Saunders creates, finds, invents… out of the “old” instruments, unveils the new kind of listening, for the unexpected and the unheard. Which is in no way surprising, as her “reason to write a piece is discovering what is the meaning of the gesture, the meaning of sound itself… Feeling the weight of the sound is the intransigent part of the inspiration…. Sound is the material, not the medium.” 

“It is the unnamable in music that I find fascinating.”

Rebecca Saunders

The opening duo of voice+bass flute, this fluttering sound, sound made of things one can touch, physically feel, tactilely sense…  It is this driving sparkling dust that will continue to scatter us back and front of exploring each side of the membrane, of the [S]kin. The outside world and the inside world. This fluttering sound, this “dust” thus becomes the defining of the existence of the skin. The skin, which becomes both our vessel and the space we navigate through. If ever even in a slightest doubt, it is that perfectly timed e-guitar slide in the first few minutes of the piece, that seed that comes from nothing, launches and trepanned through the skin, like a light beam, entering the stream of consciousness that lies beneath this membrane that defines the self – it is that moment that you simply surrender to the magic ahead.
We are traveling with this piece, searching and feeling through the muttered voice that becomes the embodiment of each-own’s voice. The one embedded deep within, under the “skin”. It is the intense energy of not understanding what is being spoken, the imagined and guessed meanings emphasised with the “beating of the heart” (coming through all the percussive elements), that lead one to look and find its own place, its own “essence”. Discover whether you are dust… skin.. space… what is the self. Your self.

Besides giving multiple meanings to the word “Skin”, Saunders adds: “Struck by a recording of an early production of Samuel Beckett’s television play The Ghost Trio (written 1975 and first broadcast in 1977), the text, spoken by the narrator in Act 1, was the absolute catalyst for this piece.
The main text is Skin is my own which gradually materialised during the long compositional process, and was partly inspired by collaborative sessions with Juliet Fraser. A section from James Joyce’s Ulysses, from the final passage of Molly Bloom’s Monologue, is quoted towards the end of Skin

UK Premier of “Skin” took place at the hcmf//2016, on November 20th in St Paul’s Hall in Huddersfield.

Edit: December, 2017: Featured photo: (c) Dr. Bram van den Broek: microscopic view of human skin cell. the winner of the 43rd Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition [via]

Edit: April 22, 2018: Recording of Skin, performed by Juliet Fraser and Klangforum Wien, conducted by Bas Wiegers now on Rebecca Saunders’ Soundcloud

The score preview available online:

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