AKOUSMA plays with sound, impresses

AKOUSMA was in no way an experience that I will ever forget.

As someone who is open-minded, I like a lot of music. Essentially, I will listen to anything. But I have never heard of the genre of music that AKOUSMA was. I don’t even know how to describe it. It involved a lot of whistles, screeches, static, bells, etc. and didn’t really have a constant beat to it. Yes, this wasn’t your popular pop, rap, country, or even screamo music. No, this seemed to be just pointless sound.

But then I actually started to listen. I realized that there was a lot of art going on around me that I wasn’t even considering. For example, the way the entire room was set up was phenomenal. There wasn’t just one speaker—they were set up around the room, up to 32 feet above out heads. The sound would just move around the room in one giant wave. At one point, I literally could feel the sound begin at the other side of the room—the sound essentially vibrated you and the room—and slowly move towards me, then finally pass me. It was a very fascinating experience.

The use of crescendo of sound was another theme of the entire show. A slow buildup of noise, starting at a small chirp of sound until it reaches one peak that shakes the entire room.

Essentially what all of this boils down to is the fact that the music that AKOUSMA played was pure art. It was “playing the room” as if it were a physical instrument—learning how sound bounces around the room in order to build a crescendo the rattles everyone—figuring out how sound can jump around through the many speakers. The amount of time and effort that went into this work was obvious, and I give these artists a lot of credit for their work.

The entire show was also just one giant play on your senses. For example, when the show first started, I was really confused. The lights weren’t on at all during the show. Really. I literally couldn’t see anything. As a visual learner, that was a hard concept for me to get used to. At first, I would actually look to where all of the sound was. A loud screech across the room? My eyes would jump right to it. After a while though, when my head started to hurt from jerking around so much, I adjusted. I figured out that it was actually best to just close my eyes—yes, I know that with the lights off that would seem pointless, but it helped me—and just listen. Overall, it was very interesting because it taught me about the connection between my eyes and ears, and how my senses in general were extremely connected. However, after a certain amount of time being in the dark, I found that my hearing became so much more sensitive. For example, someone a couple rows behind me moving in their chair caused me to literally just jump out of my seat. Overall, the show as a whole was a play on your senses.

The entire show was composed of four pieces which were about 15-20 minutes long each. Two of them were live, one created from a turn table, and the other from this interesting chair contraption. I have to say that my favorite song was not one of the live songs, but the pre-recorded third song of the entire show. The song had a lot of bells, chimes and different tones. I enjoyed hearing more tones and bells rather than just static which some of the songs were focused on. Also, in the third song were some more human sounds. For example, I believe I heard doors closing, chainsaws, more sounds that I could connect to my everyday life. So I enjoyed it more.

While at first I really did not like the show, slowly I began seeing the art that was involved and began actually enjoying myself. At one point, I was actually relaxed—and as someone who always is stressed out about everything, that was a nice experience. I can see how the show is not for everyone, however. But if you enjoy art, getting new experiences that teach you a little about yourself, and enriching the art side of your education, which everyone really should, I would highly recommend going to AKOUSMA if it comes back to RPI or going to one of the shows that AKOUSMA plays elsewhere. Also, I would highly recommend going to the various shows that the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center puts on.