The highly syncopated grooves and industrial electronic sounds of Third Rail / Revelation keep the audience on their toes while providing a thrilling challenge for both the saxophone and marimba. Living on the boundary between modern music production and post-minimalist composition, this piece fits perfectly into the contemporary percussion recital as a crowd-pleasing closer that lets the creative marimbist showcase their instrument in a unique context.
I wrote Third Rail / Revelation when living in Seattle in the summer of 2021. My primary interaction with most of the city was through public transit. Through this lens, the city to me was a symbol of freedom, but consequently of fear, whether from the subway racing by the platform at 50 miles per hour or from the very real terror, anxiety, or even ecstasy felt by another passenger whose violent shouting at an apparition brought their imagined reality to life. When writing this piece, the images that stuck in my mind were of the mechanical artifacts from an industrial age that persist into the present in our cities, as well as the ways in which rapidly accelerating technologies bring new anxieties into our lives.
This piece was originally written for marimba, bari sax, piano, and bass clarinet. In the duet version with electronics, I used prepared piano samples and noisy synths to reimagine these parts as mechanical sonic objects, inspired by the gritty experimental techno that had served as a soundtrack to the bus rides I took between the International District and Downtown Seattle.