Vela Sierra is a harsh, inhospitable landscape of gritty electronic noise and ragged vocal fry. Performers scream into the bodies of their instruments. Industrial skewering pads are ground into the amplified strings of the violin and viola. And an accordion huffs ineffectually through an open air-release valve. Throughout, performers must find a way to exist within an overwhelming wall of broad-spectrum noise that fills the hall like a kind of acoustic blizzard, obscuring and reducing the performers and audience together in the face of this almost geophysical sound pressure.
Scored for a subset of Ensemble l’Itinéraire, Vela Sierra pairs a “Eurorack” modular synthesizer (an analog synthesizer capable of producing an almost infinite variety of noise bursts and modulated tones) with an unusual amplified ensemble consisting of bass flute, accordion, violin, viola, and double bass.