We See Things That Are Not There / by Anne Lanzilotti

Headed to NYC for the release of Bearthoven’s new album of music by Scott Wollschleger, American Dream. I’ll be performing an opening set of works by Caroline Shaw, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, and myself, followed by a live performance by Bearthoven of the works on the album. I’ve learned so much from working with Scott and studying his music, and it was an honor to write liner notes for the album.

We See Things That Are Not There

“We always see things that are not there. That is profoundly sad, but it’s also profoundly hopeful too, because it could mean ‘are not there yet.’ . . . It’s hard to be in that place of uncertainty, so fear is the armor we wear,” says Wollschleger.

As with many of Wollschleger’s duos, We See Things That Are Not There is about how two people are never able to fully see each other. The piece begins with the pianist and percussionist playing the same line in unison. After this first phrase, they try to connect through their shared memory. However, the more they try to communicate, the more things drift apart. They begin to stutter, unable to recall what they were originally trying to say. Wollschleger continues, “The memory of the opening line decoheres, and the process of trying to remember becomes more important than the thing they were trying to remember in the first place.”

Matt Evans (percussion) comments on Wollschleger’s music: 


To him, everything is kind of a memory, and everything is imperfect, but also potentially more beautiful. He’s fascinated by the erosion of facts and thoughts, and the weird little holes that get poked in things as they move through time.

Is it a love song? A mis-remembered nostalgic anthem? A quiet, hopeful fanfare? A frightened obsessive meandering? In allowing ourselves to be truly vulnerable we can connect with each other, even if only for a moment. Or perhaps we see things that are not there.