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Jim Feeley

A Water Tank Turned Music Venue (New Yorker article)

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I thought this article on The TANK Center for Sonic Arts was fascinating, inspiring, and encouraging.

 

A Water Tank Turned Music Venue

In Colorado, a uniquely resonant performance space.

New Yorker

By Alex Ross

 

In 1976, the composer and sound artist Bruce Odland participated in an arts festival sponsored by the Colorado Chautauqua, which presented shows across the state. Odland’s contribution was to create a sonic collage portraying each place he visited. The last stop was a town called Rangely, in northwestern Colorado, on the high desert that extends into Utah. Odland was outside one day, making recordings of ambient sounds, when a pickup truck pulled up beside him. Two burly oil workers were inside. One asked, “Are you the sound guy?” Odland nodded. “Get in,” the worker said. Odland hesitated, then complied. They drove to a sixty-five-foot-tall water tank, on a hillside on the outskirts of town. Odland was told to crawl into it, through a drainage hole. He obeyed, now feeling distinctly uneasy. The guys instructed him to turn on his equipment, and then commenced throwing rocks at the tank and banging it with two-by-fours. Odland found himself engulfed in the most extraordinary noise he had ever heard: an endlessly booming, ringing roar. It was as if he were in the belfry of an industrial cathedral.

The Tank, as everyone calls it, still looms over Rangely in rusty majesty, looking a bit like Devils Tower. Late one afternoon in June, Odland welcomed me there...

 

Rest of the two-page (in the paper magazine) article:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/24/a-water-tank-turned-music-venue

 

 

One of many paragraphs that stick out:

“People feel a genuine awe,” Odland told me. “They may ascribe it to the Tank, but I ascribe it to the awakening of the ears in a predominantly visual age. Our ears get so abused on a daily basis. Our modern society makes a bad offer to them. We don’t use the hearing sense the way we evolved to, as hunter-gatherers interacting with nature. In there, you feel the sound on the skin, you feel it in your gut. What people are in awe of is their own ability to hear properly.”

 

More on The Tank Center:

https://tanksounds.org

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