On 23 January 1960, oceanographers Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh journeyed to the deepest known part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench, reaching the ocean floor nearly eleven kilometres down. Their vessel for the five-hour descent was the Bathyscaphe Trieste, a tiny sphere with just enough room for the two men inside, built to withstand the enormous pressure of the water, with a huge float chamber filled with petrol for buoyancy, and iron pellets for ballast.
These Five Loops are intended to give the impression of near stasis, analogous to the emptiness of the deep, dark ocean, where sunlight is unable to penetrate and the temperature approaches freezing point.
While the ensemble plays this motionless music, the recorded voices act as timekeepers, speaking numbers, fragments of scientific text, and lines derived from Piccard's poetic recollections of the experience.
Written for the the Britten Sinfonia and premiered as part of their 'At Lunch' series, January 2018.