Eric Maltz

experiencing time through durational performance and sonic journalism.


Eric Maltz

Researching time through durational performance and sonic journalism.

Tappan Zee

Tappan Zee is a collection of three songs which reach across space and time to explore the frailty of human memory and inter-generational relationships. It pulls from a variety of influences: the patience and atmosphere of Eliane Raduige, the complex patterns of Balinese Gamelan (I studied with Gamelan masters I Wayan Sanglah and Pasek Sucipta), the mediative pacing of John Hassel’s fourth world, the electronic excursions of Skee Mask, and the spirituality of Alice Coltrane. Created across several years and locations (Berlin, NYC, Madrid, & Ubud) the music itself is a bridge constructed of questions. What happens when the location of a memory no longer exists? When the people in the memory are dead or they themselves do not remember the moment? Where do memories exist, can they be tied to certain objects?

Tappan Zee is based on a foundational memory. On an evening in 1986, my grandfather, father, and I pulled over onto the side of the Tappan Zee bridge, got out of the car, and stood looking up at the sky. High above us was Haley’s comet, brighter than any star. After my initial excitement ebbed, a new emotion arose, and with it an acute awareness of time. I knew that when the comet next appeared, my grandfather and father would be long dead, and I would be in my grandfather’s place. This sudden realization filled me with a distinct flavor of sadness.

In the years that passed this memory gradually faded. However, it recently jumped to the front of my mind when the demolition of the Tappan Zee was announced, and again when reading Kamau Daáood’s inter-generational poem The Men. Both are the moments that gave this work its wings and forced me to confront the inevitable passage of time, made even more poignant now that I am a father myself.

Tear of The Clouds takes its name from the lake which is the source of the Hudson River – the river which the Tappan Zee spanned. This piece is a mix of influences and sources. It sounds to me of rain drops, of individual molecules of water in movement. Discretely emotional, it is the current that sets us on our way.

The Men owes its name to the poem of the same name by Kamau Daáood. I discovered. Kamau’s poetry while browsing the shelfs of the City Lights bookstore in San Francisco. Years later this poem set off a chain reaction of memories and emotions, and gave flight to this collection of music. The Men in this context refers to the three of us, grandfather, father, and son, standing on the bridge, a frozen moment in time. The glitch at the end is intentional – a left over fragment from an earlier album ordering, as if the music itself has memory, holding on to its previous context.

Honoring Debussy’s La cathédrale engloutie, this song is about the sunken Tappan Zee, which was demolished in 2017 and is now beneath the waters of the Hudson River. Starting gently with gamelan inferred patterns, the piece gradually moves through three transitions, and ends with the ambience of my piano, recorded in my living room with the windows open, allowing for the sound of life, of the present moment to resume.  

About the Art

The album artwork was sourced from Librado Romero’s iconic photo of the Tappan Zee Bridge. I decided to repeatedly re-copy the photo 36 times (the number of years that had passed since Haley’s last appearance) creating via a visual feedback loop the degradation a memory might experience over time. This is a similar type of process that Éliane Radigue used for the first part of her seminal Opus 17, or William Bassinski used for Disintegration Loops, but with image instead of sound. I got the chills, when on the 36th time the printer ran out of ink, and the bridge itself had disappeared, just as the Tappan Zee of my memories.

Album Credits

Written, Recorded & Mixed by Eric Maltz
Percussion on The Men & Le pont englouti by Renu Hossain
Mastering by Walter Coelho
Album Art by Eric Maltz
Graphic Design by Clovis Wieske

about: time, memory, family, haley’s comet, tappan zee bridge