[Shortly after 9/11/2001]
In an attempt to visualize and dissipate the angst of the US american psyche in the wake of tragic communal loss after the events of '9/11', a mental pastiche of Alfred Hitchcock's surrealistic cinematic 'dream' sequences informs conductor's visual style - a kind of Freudian Modernism - but so too does Disneyesque melodrama. These off-key alienation devices are intended to allow an audience critical distance from the news-media's obscene coupling of real tragic imagery with overplayed sentiment and opportunistic commercialism that characterizes coverage of 9/11 - conductor may then operate as intended, sparking synapses into fresh thought around the subjects of hubris, trauma, revenge and redemption.
conductor relies heavily on the notion and use of 'the helicopter shot' - a device often used in clumsy attempts to rescue bad cinema. In this scenario though, the drone view is replaced with the point-of-view of a 'lost soul', caught forever in the purgatory of a premonitory dream on the eve of September 11, 2001. No martyr or hero, this believer is an asylum-seeker, a shell-shocked refugee from a moribund Faith, frenziedly and repeatedly navigating the Jacob's Ladder of the World Trade Center towers in increasingly more desperate and futile attempts to ascend to Heaven's Gate prior to Armageddon, 'the war at the end of the world' ...and God.
The late composer Karl-Heinz Stockhausen's controversial profundity is referenced in conductor. To formal and critical ends it uses a short passage from his Helikopter-Streichquartett in which "the four members of a string quartet perform in four helicopters flying independent flight paths over the countryside near the concert hall. The sounds they play are mixed together with the sounds of the helicopters and played through speakers to the audience in the hall". Just days after 9/11, during a media event for his opera Licht ['Light'], Stockhausen caused outrage by claiming that 9/11 was [Lucifer's] "greatest work of art".
The Angel of History, Walter Benjamin, is an enduring and pertinent influence.

Graham Budgett, 2001