scapegoat: The Threshing Floor/Plastic Disorder


Experimental saxophone and percussion duo scapegoat (Noam Bierstone, percussion; Joshua Hyde, saxophone) releases The Threshing Floor/Plastic Disorder, a recording featuring two path breaking works written for them by Mauricio Pauly and Santiago Díez-Fischer. These works explore subtle gradations of timbre and sound through integration of electronic elements and processing, inviting the listener inside rarefied sonic environments before deftly managing their gradual evolution.


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Time
Total Time 43:48
01The Threshing Floor
The Threshing Floor
02Plastic Disorder
Plastic Disorder

The experimental saxophone and percussion duo scapegoat places collaboration and multi-media projects at the center of their practice. The Threshing Floor/Plastic Disorder, their most recent release, documents two significant works written for them by composers Mauricio Pauly and Santiago Díez-Fischer. Both are scored for electronics and amplified instruments, and the fabric of the music is intricately bound up in the dynamic between acoustic, electronic, and enhanced elements. scapegoat brings virtuosity to the delicate demands of this highly detailed music, which calls for instrumental command, technical expertise with respect to the live electronics, and a keen sense for balancing out all of the elements to create an ideal composite sonic result.

Mauricio Pauly's The Threshing Floor spotlights two performers facing one another, their choreographies intimately integrated between them, their instruments and the terms of their amplification. A rough undulating centre throws offshoots into a pale ring of sustained tones projected by speakers against the outer walls. These ebb back into swarms of controlled feedback, extending the boundaries of all bodies involved.

Pauly establishes layers of activity throughout the work, with some sounds functioning as variable foreground material and others providing a more static background. Within these frames, the foregrounds and backgrounds shift and interact, sometimes forming hybrid timbres, and other times activating feedback with the other sounds present. As the work opens, a low drone pitch intermittently blooms into saxophone overtones as gravelly sounds in the percussion and electronics establish a percolating core. Two minutes in, a percussive attack signals a transition to a new section dominated by wispy gestures in the sax and on a frame drum, punctuated by static and insistent clicking in the electronics. The environment gradually become more abrasive, before the texture shifts again, now framed by sustained tones in the high register. Throughout Pauly adjusts sonic parameters and then explores them as a new ecosystem, allowing the sounds to interact and catalyze movement.

At the eight-minute mark, emerging from the airy texture from earlier, the piece becomes more angular with a repetitive, mechanistic ostinato over which Pauly builds layers of contrasting material. An oscillating, meditative drone emerges from the resonance of this activity and complex composite figures are layered, building steadily. At roughly 14:30, the foreground activity pulls back to reveal the drone, now developed as a beguiling harmonic loop. We are left with a sense of weightlessness that invites us to revisit our experience so far. Low rumbling events emerge and recede beneath this loop for the next several minutes before a landslide of sound washes in a new texture at roughly 18:30. Rapid strings of attacks, as if one were dragging a stick along several wooden slats, sustain intensity over a dense pad of sound. The texture diffuses under sounds of static and electronic glitches, before a bare high register tone closes out the final minutes of the piece. Pauly paces the formal structure of the piece beautifully, building to transitional moments by enhancing components of the prevailing texture as they instigate a shift.

The opening of Díez-Fischer’s Plastic Disorder is more instrumentally tactile, featuring unsettling textures between unstable sax multiphonics and tom-tom played with a bow and ruler modulating the head of the drum. Both instruments are again amplified, and Díez-Fischer incorporates distortion and octave effects pedals into the percussion chain, and volume pedals on both instruments, allowing for fascinating modulations of the amplified acoustic sound. In contrast to The Threshing Floor which predominantly established and developed immersive, multi-layered sonic environments, Plastic Disorder spends more time excavating discrete sonic phenomena, focusing our attention on the fragile textures established between timbres emanating from the two instruments and their respective processing. The material is often achingly melodic, despite resulting from sounds that express themselves in ambiguous combinations of pitch and noise. Just before the twelve-minute mark, Díez-Fischer establishes a searing pedal point around which whistling pitches and sax multiphonics swirl. After a brief interruption that is reminiscent of a system malfunction, the drone returns transposed an octave down, as feedback and saxophone growls become more ravenous.

The music on The Threshing Floor/Plastic Disorder, speaks to the constant evolution of the integration between acoustic and electronic elements. The conversation surrounding the relationship between technology and live performer in electro-acoustic music has shifted away from whether or not they are equal partners, in dialogue with one another, immersive or enhancing. The music scapegoat presents has been designed from the outset with the electronic elements as an inextricable component of the ensemble texture. By leaning on the edges of instrumental sound and then using processing to modulate those sounds, Pauly and Díez-Fischer have crafted a sonic vocabulary that precedes these aesthetic questions about the relationship between two distinct elements of the music -- the composite of acoustic, amplified, and electronically processed sound is the unique compound instrument being written for and the resulting material is its natural expression.

-- Dan Lippel

  • Recording: Luca Piovesan, Blowout Studios, Treviso, Italy, February 2018
  • Producers: Murat Çolak, Mauricio Pauly and Santiago Díez-Fischer
  • Mixing: Murat Çolak
  • Mastering: Richard Scott
  • Photography: Regina Stelzer
  • Art Design: Mauricio Quirós and Curtis Ho
  • Artwork and liner notes: Renee Gladman


scapegoat is an experimental saxophone and percussion duo. Close creative collaboration and multi-media projects form the basis of their pursuit for artistic innovation and expression. Programmes are designed to broaden and challenge the musical experience of the audience, through original works featuring live electronics, performer-controlled sonic and visual amplification, video and lighting design, and improvisation.

Formed in Paris in 2013 by Australian saxophonist Joshua Hyde and Canadian percussionist Noam Bierstone, scapegoat has performed in France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, the US & the UK. They have completed residencies at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute, New York University, Monash University (Melbourne), the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester), Spread Art (Detroit) & the University of Liverpool, and have performed at festivals and venues including Ultima (Oslo), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, wasteLAnd (Los Angeles), Darmstadt Ferienkurse, City University (London), Constellation (Chicago), Spectrum (New York), IGNM Basel, Unerhörte Musik (Berlin), Kompakt (Zurich), NO HAY BANDA (Montreal) & the Grant Street Theatre (Melbourne).

scapegoat’s 2017/18 season featured new commissions of composers Pierluigi Billone and Michelle Lou funded by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, with residencies and performances as part of an Australian tour, a Californian tour, and at the Ultima Festival (Oslo). Upcoming projects include collaborations with Sabrina Schroeder, Hanna Hartman & Sam Salem, and the release of their debut album featuring music by Mauricio Pauly and Santiago Díez Fischer, along with texts and drawings by writer Renee Gladman.

Mauricio Pauly

Mauricio Pauly's practice combines composition for hybrid instrumental/electronic ensembles, sound design, and live performance. As an active cross-disciplinary collaborator, his work includes numerous projects with writers, designers, programmers and theatre-makers.

His music has been featured by festivals that include Ultima Festival (Norway, 2011), Warsaw Autumn (Poland, 2013), Darmstadt International Summer Courses (Germany, 2010/12/14/16), Le Bruit de la Musique (France, 2014), Images Sonores Festival (Belgium, 2015), Bludenzer Tage zeitgemäßer Musik (Austria, 2016) and Open Ears Festival (Canada 2018).

Recent collaborations include live-performed music and sound design for Athina Rachel Tsangari’s production of Wedekind's LULU in a sold-out 10-show run at the 2017 Salzburg Festival. FREAM AD WALL, written in collaboration with programmer and 3D animator, Gabriel Montagné, was performed by Line Upon Line Percussion as a 3-show premiere in Austin, TX and toured Europe and the UK in Fall 2019. His latest work, The Difference is the Buildings Between Us #3, was premiered in 2020 by No Hay Banda in Montreal.

Pauly spent the summer of 2018 as an awarded Artist Fellow at Civitella Ranieri (Umbria, Italy). In 2017 he was Composer-in-Residence at Villa Romana (Florence, Italy) undertaking a two-part creation and performance residency. During 2014-2015 he relocated to Cambridge, MA (US) thanks to a year-long fellowship at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Pauly is a founding member of UK-based ensemble, Distractfold.

Pauly is an Assistant Professor at SFU's School for the Contemporary Arts in Vancouver, Canada. Previously, he taught at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK (2007-2020) and at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, UK (2011-2019). He has given workshops and masterclasses at McGill University, New York University, Brussels Royal Conservatory, Bath Spa University and Huddersfield University among others.

Since 2017, his home and studio are in Vancouver, Canada.

Santiago Díez-Fischer

Santiago Tomás Díez Fischer (1977, Ramos Mejia, Argentina), composition Assistant Professor Haute Ecole de Musique de Geneva, has a degree in Composition and Choir Conducting from the Faculty of Arts and Musical Sciences of the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA). He took composing lessons with Rebecca Saunders in Berlin, with Francois Bayle, Yan Maresz and Philippe Leroux in Paris and with Jorge Sad in Argentina.

He took several courses, compositions masterclass, residences and festivals: Schloss Solitude Akademie 2011 (with Chaya Czernowin, Steven Takasugi and Amnon Wolman) Darmstadt 2012 (selected for the Ensemble Composition Workshop), Acanthes 2011, Impuls Academy (Graz, Austria, 2011), Atlantic Center for the Arts, (2004), etc.

He has received various scholarships including IRCAM – CURSUS 2009/2010, Eichstätt- Ingolstadt University, Germany (2003), Antorchas Foundation (2004), a scholarship from the Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación (2004) and a scholarship given by the Embassy of France, Mozarteum Argentine and “Cité Internationale des Arts”.

Diez-Fischer has been awarded with the following prizes: SCRIME 2003 (France), “Música Viva 2003” (Portugal), “5o concurso de música electroacústica” (Argentina), TRIME 2004 (Argentine), “Juan Carlos Paz” for Orchestra (Argentine), IMEB Bourges 2007 (France), “Miniaturas Electroacústicas” 2007 (Spain) and IMEB “Bourges Composition Competition” (France), MUSICA VIVA 2005 (Portugal), Prix Joan Guinjoan 2009 (Spain), Clang Cut Book Berlin 2013, etc.

He worked with different ensembles such as the Ensemble Dal Niente, Ensemble SurPlus, KNM ensemble, Vortex, Le Balcon, TM+, CAIRN ensemble, L’imaginaire.

Diez-Fischer’s music has been performed and broadcasted in Argentina, France, Germany, Belgium, Greece, Spain, Austria, Portugal, Denmark, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada, USA, Chile and Peru.

He created the L.E.M.C. Ensemble for improvisation of contemporary music in the National University of Lanús (Argentine) and the No input ensemble (France).

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