Photo – Charlotta de Miranda
The sound of water provides endless fascination, as any kid who has spent time blowing bubbles in the bath will tell you. It makes high pitched gurgles and sub-base rumbles and will quite often do this simultaneously. Aquasonic is a sonic exploration of water and the effects produced when instruments are played though it. It is part concert, part performance art and totally hypnotic.
Imagine, if you can, a stage filled with five tanks of water. Each tank emits a surreal green hue like something out of the strange and brilliant French Fantasy film, The City of Lost Children. There is one musician per tank and an array of instruments that would also fit quite nicely into the afore mentioned film.
The tanks provide unique echo chambers for the violin Robert Kalsson and hydraulophone (Lalla Skovmand as well as Nanna Bech’s vocals. This chamber creates echo and reverb effects which are hypnotic and completely alien. Strangely, the sounds of the percussion instruments Dea Marie Kjeldson and drums Morten Poulsen take on a low-fi quality and it almost sounds as if the echo is reversing back on itself.
The visuals are as unique as the sound. The lighting by Adalsteinn Stefansson is just as important as the sound in keeping the audience spellbound and ensures the show becomes a full on theatrical experience. It manipulates our perceptions by isolating the tanks and slowly revealing the whole stage. This theatrical concealment is frustrating for any audio nerds wondering exactly how the instruments are played and how the tanks are miked up. The performance would work equally well in a gallery where the audience were free to walk around the tanks and examine things more closely.
Just as the performers are immersed in the tanks, the audience becomes completely immersed in the audio and visual world of Aquasonic. “Have you ever seen anything like that before?” enthuses the guy in front of me. Quite honestly. I haven’t. This is definitely a show to be experienced through the senses rather than something that needs to put into words and conveyed on an intellectual level. It reminded me what I like best about the Sydney Festival, namely, being absorbed by something totally bizarre, that you wouldn’t be exposed to any other time of year on a Sydney stage.
2018 Sydney Festival presents
Venue: Bay 17 | Carriageworks 245 Wilson Street Eveleigh NSW
Dates: 6 – 9 January 2018
Tickets: $69 – $53
Bookings: 1300 723 038 | ticketmaster.com.au