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FEBRUARY THE 17th, 2024


Gone with the Mingler.



What a spectacle of hugs and kisses, of handshaking and shoulder taps, of “hi “and “nice to see you” that emerge chaotically yet with a remarkable persistence, not unlike the contemporary music that surrounds it. Musicians are elevated along the giant walls of the Maison de la Poste on well-equipped stages, in their musician’s performance trances since many minutes, while the audience still deals with the overwhelming fact of being all together in a pit-like dimmed space: all those career paths and presences, past and present, animated by urges of saying “hello”, mingling. It takes no less than three pieces for the public to fulfil its social needs. Bear in mind, contemporary music = generally longer pieces, unless deliberately very short one’s for some conceptual reason. Like the one on climate change phenomena by Jennifer Walshe, that consists of several hasty bits for an ecstatic voice and piano. But that is later.


First, catching up on an introduction. Liquid Room is a wonderful formula, that has a history of ten editions and different repertories: from baroque, to rock, to contemporary music from the 30s, 40, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and from the very freshly written pieces. It’s a concert, several groups of musicians play, sing, and recite partitions and texts, and all that in a single room. In this case, a very large one (thus the exacerbated visibility of the mingling public). The music pieces sort of speak to each other from within a structure crafted with an obvious joy of whoever sequenced the fading in and out, echoing, contrasting. The dramaturgical coherence is there, and maybe some message, but never crashing us under its edifice. Just an occasional slap on the face by the spotlight carefully programmed to move chaotically at a precise moment. Thus, lightness and confidence of the experienced. Knowing that it’s best not to wait too long before playing the hit of Laurie Anderson, depuff  that anxious expectation and move on to listening to further Bryn Harrison or Tom Johnson, at ease.


The moments to which the program builds up to are those when the music pieces are shared, split apart in space by musicians from different groups, creating what resembles dichotic listening experiences. Dichotic listening (two different signals in two different ears) is not exactly pleasant under normal circumstances, it’s usually dealt with unconsciously, and can quickly tire us. In the Liquid Room it’s if anything, hypnotising. Imagine: the violin part in your left ear coming from the South-West, while the wind instrument is reaching you from the North and in accord with the Southern violin, all the while your Eastern right ear is witnessing the piano tingling.


One of such moments put the mingling of Maison de la Poste on halt. Jean-Luc Plouvier, the pianist, stretched a sound (and a hand?) towards the very opposite side of the room in a gesture of another kind of greeting, across and above the floor. As the sound traveled, the minglers, arrested in the middle of the kisses, knew: the tricks of the Liquid Room have begun. Across and above the floor of now changed public, Jean-Luc stretches a sound (and a hand?) to the singer in the very North, who responds, beautifully.


The piece that has launched this change in the atmosphere and social behaviour is written by Jessie Cox and is called Remnants of Woods & Skins. The title couldn’t describe better the new state of us in the pit, including myself, who (almost!) entirely abandoned all observation of the others. Liquid Rooms, they do this, they trick you into thinking it’s a social event, a friendly gathering, open to comings and goings with a drink, sitting on a box, standing. And yet, despite all the freedom given to be “yourself” in society, the opportunity is that of getting a glimpse of yourself as a tree.

Polina Akhmetzyanova



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