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P9 PBH Programme Note
Observations of apparent anomalies in the orbits of objects in the outermost regions of the solar system - "extreme trans-Neptunian objects" (ETNOs) - have led to speculation that a hitherto undetected massive body is perturbing those orbits. One favoured candidate is a distant planet - designated Planet Nine, or P9 - in a distant, eccentric orbit inclined about 40° to the ecliptic. In 2019, a rival theory was proposed by James Unwin an Jakub Scholtz that the reason the object resists detection is that it might be a "primordial black hole" (PBH) about the size of a tennis ball. These (theoretical) objects have been suggested as having a decisive influence on the evolution in the early universe by causing matter to clump and coalesce into the first stars.
The idea that something so small could exert such a huge influence was the inspiration for this piece. Opening with amorphous, directionless noises in both the tape and instrumental parts – key clicks, slap tongue, breath and air noises abound, creating a diffuse texture. Gradually, the material begins to coalesce into distinctive forms, just as matter approaching the black hole clusters together as it is drawn inexorably into its gravitational field. Defined pitch material becomes more prevalent, while the texture grows ever faster, turbulent and energetic. The revelation of this material is however its own destruction, as it falls beyond the event horizon to become "spaghettified" by extreme tidal forces; the pitched material dissolves into a cascade of truncated entries in a climactic, chaotic, noisy downrush.
The piece ends with a quiet coda, with static chanting drones fixed in harmonic stasis, a reflection on the (perhaps Utopian) possibility that even the most traumatic and destructive forces can ultimately lead to light and rebirth.
My grateful thanks to Fergal Dowling and to Splinter Reeds.
Gráinne Mulvey 2022
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