ArtWeek: concrete base for new sound

Imagine attending a concert with no singing, no traditional instruments and no flashy backup dancers. Picture being in an almost empty concrete room, with three artists using only their laptops and the power of technology to create a new kind of music.

Concrete Sounds: Multichannel Experimental Electronics in Boston City Hall was a free concert put on last Friday during Boston’s ArtWeek, a seven day long festival that features more than 150 creative experiences for visitors to enjoy and interact with.

Three musicians, Caroline Park, Ernst Karel and Bhob Rainey, filled the lobby of City Hall with electronics as part of the festival.

Experimental electronic music combines recorded sounds of instruments, human voices, and the environment. The process of blending sounds together serves as  a new sound for the artists. The outcome is unpredictable, which is why this type of music is so attractive to audiences.

“I’ve been more about what is the experience and how to engage in that or listen through it, without really knowing what the outcome is going to be like,” Park said in an interview with The Suffolk Journal.

The lobby on the third floor of City Hall was used for the performance space. All the entertainers needed was a table for their soundboard equipment, their laptops and four speakers.

Almost the entire room was made of concrete, so the sounds bounced off the walls, stairs, and ceiling, filling the room with vibrations and audio.

Audience members were encouraged to get out of their chairs and walk around the venue freely while the artists performed. Some stood on top of their chairs to get a better view and others paced back and forth.

“When you’re actually around people, you can feel them in the space, talk before and after. You can kind of move the way they’re moving. That’s a special thing,” Rainey said.

Rainey has been a musician for over 30 years and started out as a jazz performer, over time transitioning into experimental music. He said that music has taught him many lessons, but mostly how “to listen, to feel time, to collaborate, to know when to give voice to other people and when to take over yourself,” he said.

Experimental music is a relatively new genre of music, but as with other forms of art like painting and film, the artist’s goal is to make the audience feel some emotion by the end.

“If people are in a place where they’re comfortable, then they often react very positively. They might mention they’ve never heard anything like it before. I think if people feel comfortable they can accept where it’s taking them,” Rainey said.

“If in someone’s brain or in someone’s mind something could change,” said Park, “just like a really simple change, it doesn’t have to be a complicated concept, but just the simplicity of simply like something turning, something flipping, that kind of thing.”