Merijn Bisschops – Displacement

ClientMerijn Bisschops
DateApril 2022

Last month, ‘Displacement’ premiered in The Hague, a new piece by the composer Merijn Bisschops, specially written for the pianist Saskia Lankhoorn, who specializes in contemporary composed music. As usual, Bisschops does not limit himself to this acoustic instrument, but allows it to enter into an ingenious relationship with electronics and video. Although the latter obviously plays no role on the self-released LP.

So let me confine myself to the music. Bisschops took the title ‘Displacement’ from a phenomenon in psychology that was first described by Sigmund Freud. In Dutch we call it ‘relocation’ or ‘shift’. Simply put, it means that you do not express an emotion to the person who causes it, but to someone else who has nothing to do with it. So you don’t say anything to your boss who treats you unfairly, but take it out on your partner in the evening. In Bisschops’ composition, the part for the piano, played by Lankhorst, is ‘transferred’ to a soundtrack, expressed by means of electronics.

‘Displacement 1’ was originally specially made for the special shape and acoustics of the Ei, an infinity space in the Hilvaria Studios in Hilvarenbeek. We start with a dynamic pattern of tightly repeated tones that slide over each other, it is somewhat like minimal music. Sometimes Lankhoorn seeks space, at other times the boundaries. Gradually there are pauses that separate the dynamic phrases, pauses in which we sense that displacement. But also breaks that create a certain tension. We hear that most strongly in the slow parts, in which the electronics form an undercurrent for the piano playing.

‘Displacement 2’ is built entirely around one central note. Sometimes very prominent, as in the beginning of the piece, regularly also more hidden, absorbed in the overall structure. But the most special thing in this part is ‘the movement’ through the electronics. Impure sounding, like a cassette tape that has had its day. A special part, especially later on when a cadence creeps into the piano playing and the whole gets something compelling and further on in that unadulterated rhythmically repetitive passage. In short, a particularly fascinating piece in which Bisschops once again shows that he belongs to the most interesting composers of his generation.

Original publication