Live Review: Ephemera Live Dark Mofo

16 June 2016 | 3:15 pm | Catherine Delpero

"An experiment on how we experience music and how our other senses can play a role in what we feel about a performance."

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Music is predominantly an auditory experience. However, for anyone who has ever been to a live show, what you might not even think about is how a performance is a visual experience, sometimes a tactile experience, and more often than not there is a lingering odour (some more pleasant than others).

The collaborative project from Tim Hecker and Marcel Weber, Ephemera Live as part of the Dark MOFO festival seemed to be an experiment on how we experience music and how our other senses can play a role in what we feel about a performance. 

The audience of around 100 or so punters entered a black curtained off area dubbed the 'black box' and all involved seemed unsure of what to expect. The team at Dark MOFO encouraged patrons via the website to, "Immerse yourself in a synaesthetic spectacular of sound and light, complete with the scent of drone composed by conceptual perfumer Geza Schoen".

What that ambiguous yet enticing description translates to is a room filled with more smoke machine fog than any '80s nightclub has ever seen, and on each of the four walls a thin band of small, coloured LED lights. The scent of drone from the 'conceptual perfumer' Geza Schoen was subtle, or potentially strikingly similar to that of a smoke machine.

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The warm, pink glow of the lights as a wall of sound commenced began to slowly merge into different hues as the music changed. The lights were apparently being controlled live by some unseen puppeteer. The music itself ranged from the purely relaxed, calming and atmospheric house style into ear shattering bass tones with industrial sounds that were at times unnerving and elevated a feeling of anticipation in the room. 

As the description suggests, total immersion into the experience was the only option. Audience members sipped their drinks slowly, took creative selfies of their own silhouettes in the colourful fog and attempted to feel comfortable and smug about how they really 'got' this piece of art and how this was totally worth the entry price.  Everyone clapped at the end. Not having a clue if anyone actually would hear or appreciate the applause.

What this type of performance does is make you appreciate the luxury of the human experience of the arts, whether it be musical or visual. Also, despite having your own opinions or expectations on that performance, it is a shared experience that highlights our similarities as people perhaps more than our differences. It's a love of music that brings us together, no matter how pretentious the concept. You've got to give credit to Dark MOFO for allowing us to escape from our mundane reality even for just a few days.