Some time ago during one of the Tönmeister Assoc. executive board meetings, our P.R. Officer, Alex, had the great idea to make a public event out of the Flaming Lips album Zaireeka. We would use one of the large rehearsal rooms and contract the student live sound group, Sound Services, to bring the speakers and amps necessary for a big show and open the room to anyone interested in listening. To anyone who doesn’t know what Zaireeka is, this potential event would seem like a boring, awkward experience. After all, listening to an album is something you can do by yourself in the comfort of your own home… right? Not really with Zaireeka.
Zaireeka is unique in that it is a four disk album where all four disks are meant to be played simultaneously on four different stereo systems. This creates new ways of playing and listening to music. Since there are no real rules and synchronizing all four disks manually is impossible to do perfectly, the experience is different every time and the possibilities are endless. However, to do this yourself you’d need to first buy the four disk album, a bargain at ~$20, own and then setup four stereo systems in your living room, and press play on all four CD players at once. Listening is better with friends.
After the inception of the idea it took us a while to get the details worked out, the most difficult one being when to hold it when the most people would be interested in going. Making posters was a breeze with the help of my talented girlfriend Annie Leue, even if three different people missed the mistake in the date.
So this past Thursday in room 1075 of Mason Hall, Sound Services loaded in four sets of speakers and sound triggered lighting equipment. We calibrated the speaker systems and were ready for people to come and listen.
People were encouraged to sit, stand or move around during the hour long performance since sound was changing direction during the whole performance. Dave Fridmann, adjunct Fredonia professor and producer/engineer on album came with his family to experience a new “performance” of his work from over a decade ago.
In total we had nearly 60 people show up, many of them I had never met before. It was really an awesome experience! People heard about the event either from the internet, the short run poster campaign, or just through friends. Some people brought blankets and looked like they were sleeping, though I doubt they really were since the room was very loud. People came up to me afterwards and days later commenting on how much they loved it! Even people who weren’t necessarily Lips fans came up to me and expressed how much they enjoyed the experience of being immersed in sound for 50 minutes.
The Response was so positive that Junior members of Sound Services and Tönmeister Assoc. want to make it an annual event.