There are reasons for the gradual increase of my consideration of Hollows Out Of Time. First and foremost, having met again the creative perspectives of Australia’s prepared piano specialist Erik Griswold after so many years, and finding out that the seeds thrown way back when have flourished into a distinctive compositional jargon. We’re talking of charming melodic cells repeating, slightly changing, intertwining within clear-cut rhythmic structures. Small chamber minimalism? Perhaps, but let’s not rush to conclusions.
Second, the nature as the inspirational force behind a project. To quote the press release, this is “music inspired by the natural environment and unique architectural creations of Harrigans Lane, Bruce and Jocelyn Wolfe’s stunning bush property in northern New South Wales”. I’ll never stress enough how a rural living habitat is capable of opening the mind in different ways. These twelve gorgeous miniatures emanate a sense of uncontaminated serenity: Griswold and the brilliant members of Camerata (Brendan Joyce and Jason Tong on violin, Anna Colville on viola and Katherine Philp on cello) play as if constantly irradiated by a warm sun conveying intelligent optimism. A piece such as “Water Dripping Into Stone” spells “inner peacefulness”, whereas the subsequent “Rock Pools” is an exquisite contrapuntal gem (indeed, just like everything else on offer) whose introductory theme is oddly reminiscent of Brian Eno’s “By This River”.
Certain peculiar resonances of the prepared piano furnish selected spots with a touch of Partch-esque appeal. Add that to the overall amiability (and genuinely danceable pulses) characterizing the bulk of the scores and what you get is a cycle of veritable mini-ceremonies. The participants are wholly conscious of their role as components of harmonic mechanisms destined to improve, at least for the duration of a record, one’s response to the surroundings. Or – in other words – this is a lesson on the importance of a quietly joyful moment, as fleeting as it may be.