The title Krasch! is an onomatopic description of the beginning of the piece and a portmanteau of the names of the two ensembles for which the work was written: the Kroumata percussion ensemble and the Rascher saxophone quartet. The rhythm of the piece, inescapable, evokes the composer's "rock" past, and stands for the inherent reaction to this genre, in front of what seems stiff in so-called "serious" music.
The musicians' places are clearly inscribed in the score: saxophonists in the centre, percussionists in a semicircle around them and loudspeakers forming another semicircle at the rear. The tape helps to stretch the register of acoustic instruments and create a new acoustic wall.
Nilsson has fun here with conventions: it is the percussionists who carry the "melody", while the saxophonists "give the beat". The piece, in three movements of various characteristics, refers to different places on our Earth. The complex pattern of the first movement evokes the European city; the rhythm of the congas gives an African colour to the second movement, while the finale, punctuated by the ritardandos of the xylophone, takes us somewhere in Asia.
KRASH! was created by the Rascher quartet and the Kroumata percussion ensemble. The Canadian premiere was presented by Quasar, the Quad percussion ensemble, Julien Grégoire and Robert Slapcoff, percussionists and Walter Boudreau, conductor, on November 17, 2003, at the Salle Pierre-Mercure as part of the concert Sax, drums and co.