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August 11, 2008 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Om the Space 2008: The Lucid Dreaming Ear

I hate the word ‘weird’. It’s a cop out. It’s what you say when you don’t know what else to say. When you describe something as weird, all you’re really saying is that you didn’t know how to react to it and it made you uncomfortable.

But it may help you to know that Om the Space, an excellent five night festival of music and other happenings based at Happy, was very, very weird. Highlights were:

• The performance on the second night of John Cage’s piece ‘Om’ by all the people present at the bar. (We all shook bamboo rattles, chanted ‘Om’ loudly, and walked around the block in a procession. The only witnesses were a few passing cars, but the event will live forever in the memories of the performers).

• The (Wild Spectacular) Zirkus: never before have I seen a group of at least a dozen jazz musicians howling, barking, tooting and jamming in such tightly-organised, harmonious chaos.

• DJ Alphabethead – always a wonder to behold – and his song entitled ‘When I was just a little girl growing up in Invercargill, I could never have imagined that I would grow up to be a male turntablist when all I wanted to be was a female mathematician’.

• The mulled wine.

The only bad thing about Om the Space was that being exposed to such a wide variety of wildly inventive music makes most other music seem really boring. Oh well, only another year to go til the next Om.

The Lucid Dreaming Ear

Described in the Om the Space program as ‘an evening of total immersion, erasing the boundaries between performer and audience, ‘The Lucid Dreaming Ear’ was a refreshing reminder of the many different possible modes of performance that are still waiting to be exploited fully.

When we arrived at the Aro Valley Community Centre, we were blindfolded, led in to a room and sat down upon cushions. There was some nice washy ambient music playing and I was handed a shaker and told to play it if I wanted to. What followed was a very long, very awesome jam session with a bunch of people I couldn’t see. And nice smells courtesy the ‘performers’ of the piece.

Almost immediately after the blindfold came on, I lost my orientation in space, and before long my orientation in time too. Rarely have I been so intently focused on just my sense of hearing.

‘The Lucid Dreaming Ear’ was possibly of interest more to musicians than casual fans. The awesome thing about it was noticing how changes in your perception can affect the way you play, and listening to all the communication that was happening.

The most magical thing about it was that everyone was listening so closely to what was happening, that the whole ‘piece’ reached a natural conclusion after about an hour of its own accord.


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