for piano, percussion, and electronics

Commissioned by Aron Kallay and Yuri Inoo, Premiered at Pomona College in Pomona, California in November 2012.

Five Conversations about Two Things, 2014, Populist records.


Elliptic was written for pianist Aron Kallay and percussionist Yuri Inoo, the two members of the Inoo-Kallay duo. It was inspired by a particularly beautiful dream that reflects a sense of wonder and intense anxiety for existence in our pre-apocalyptic, neoliberal world. Movement I is a serene meditation on sensation and the cosmos; Movement II is a conflicted vision of wild joy and anxious oversaturation; and Movement III is a nostalgic echo of Movement I.

This dream takes place on a water-planet, strange because it is shaped as a dramatic ellipsoid. You live on the only continent in the "lake."
Standing at the edge of the lake, you can see a pair of strange, impossibly massive black monoliths marking the horizon. The people on this planet believe that water from the lake flows between these monoliths into the vacuum of space.
One evening, you and many silent companions climb your way through giant, broken alabaster pillars stacked at the edge of the lake in order to view a spectacular sunset and moonrise. The sun is pink, the moon is golden.

Unexpectedly, a third celestial body appears: a horrifyingly beautiful manifestation of Earth. It seems to dance and pulsate; its colors become more and more saturated until they appear blinding. Beauty turns to unspeakable terror.

Suddenly, you are swept into an abstract onslaught of colors, words, images, and sounds. Orange, pink, black, red, and yellow assault you; while media content blares relentlessly: -radio static, angry preaching, politicians shaking hands... Advertisements, "How to groom your golden retriever!" "Eat these berries for a more efficient metabolism!" "See how this woman came to spirituality!" "Better houses! Stronger communities!" "OMG I learned how to love my boss!" "Are you a true Bohemian?" "Critically acclaimed!"

The inundation of media stops as abruptly as it started, leaving you huddled in the skeleton of a house. You look out the window and notice buildings that weren't there before, looming as large as mountains in the distance The air is smoky and the sky rumbles.

Now you and your silent companions are at the edge of the lake, boarding silver-sailed boats in the stealth of darkness. Though the occasional rumble still shakes the sky, the night is peaceful-cool water laps at your feet as you step into an elegant vessel. The amber moon is high, bright, baroque.

Now you watch from space. You see a fleet of silver sails inching ever closer to the black monoliths and the mythical waterfall that flows out toward the stars. The superstitious people do not realize that the waterfall is actually a river that runs to the other side of the ellipsoid planet, where alabaster marble ruins occasionally fall into the lake, sinking into clear depths.