very once in a while someone comes along and does something so extraordinarily out of the order that it blows your mind away and shatters whatever preconceived notions you might have. Kenny Wollesen was that person for me tonight. I knew how talented he is from having seen him play drums and vibes with John Zorn many times and I knew he had manu other side projects as well (some of which I’ve seen and some I have not yet). When he told me about this event, it sounded so interesting that I couldn’t pass it up, so even though I was at a rooftop dinner party, I just left for an hour to go check out Wollesonic Laboratories’ "Touchless Kaleidophonic Sonic Massages". It was sooooo worth it!
Held at the new Gallery 151 on the Bowery (co-curated by the talented urban/pop singer Miz Metro), the free donation-supported event basically consisted in two opposite rows if yoga mats where you would lay down, close your eyes if you wanted to (if you didn’t there was a psychedelic light show being projected on the ceiling) and absorb all the sounds created by Kenny’s populous crew (dressed in official looking white lab coats with woven names). For about 30-45 minutes I laid there relaxing and breathing in and out silently while the crazy professor and his assistants shuffled from one end of the gallery to the opposite making some kind of sound. Rain carousels, hellophones, sleep grinders, wind wands, rotorifics, magic cat boxes, rubber band contraptions, spinning baloons and other crazy looking things... If you can imagine it in your wildest dreams, Kenny probably built it! The sounds were pretty subtle, but every now and the there would be a subsonic rumble that you could feel in your spine through the wooden floor. I was terribly torn between wanting to keep my eyes closed to focus on the sounds and wanting to take a peak to satisfy my curiosity about what object on earth would produce such cool sounds. For those on the receiving end, if you let yourself be transported by this sonic massage you could pretty much enter an outlandish Tim Burton-esque parallel fantasy world where huge bugs hover over your head, mysterious creatures surround you and other amorphous sounds contribute to the creation of this dreamy sonic realm (which I bet might sound pretty scary if you didn’t have the comfort of knowing that they were created by friendly humans from planet earth). The spatiality and movement of the sounds makes it so much more special... Here’s an example: while you are feeling the air and focusing on the sounds of a giant butterfly flapping its wings above your head, suddenly a cricket-type sound punctures the silence from behind you on the left and when you least expect it dog comes up really close to your right ear and breaths... the Wollesonic touchless crew is pretty tactful and quiet while they run up and down the gallery and if they were even more silent it would be scary!
It was a blast. I highly recommend anyone interested in experimentation with found sounds and new sonic experiences in general not to miss this event if/when it comes around again. I know I won’t.