Saturday, October 15, 2011

Review: MSPS New Music Fest draws five hundred to historic if nearly hidden downtown waterworks in Shreveport: McNeil St Pumping Station

The two-story building at McNeil St Pumping Station was a cathedral for the final hour of the MSPS New Music Festival on Friday.

Canadian sound artist Tim Hecker unleashed torrents of sampled signal into massive speakers inside the building that houses the flywheels and towering steel pumping mechanisms. The result sounded like overlapping storms from 3 cathedral organs. The high banks of window panes in the Pump Room oscillated in the orchestral wabe.

People of all ages wandered wonderingly through the romantically dark facility. Indirect and colored lights illuminated coves, valve assemblies and the steps that connected the labyrinthine hallways of the several buildings.

Performances unfolded in the vat-filled Filter Room. Installations pulsed in the picnic area (the Occidentalists' inflated and illuminated parachute was an icon) and hummed (film by Dacoda Montana animated several cement walls) and clanked in the sky above the Settling Basins (Eli Keszler vibrated and amplified the wires that he strung from an exterior tower to the ground).

Sited amidst the numerous alcoves were caterers' posts. My favorite was the vast oak tree in the picnic area from which hung fresh fruit; crowd favorites were the pork room and the juice bar.

There was a listening station in the octagonal Laboratory. Among the 13 recordists' work was a piece by Desire Obtain Cherish.

Fans of esoteric music such as Christian Greenwood, visiting from Los Angeles, and Joel Boultinghouse, MSPS volunteer from Shreveport, chatted with obscure new music heroes such as composer Mark Fell, a Londoner fresh from a tour of France.

Some 30 volunteers and minicine board members assembled the extensive network of lights and sound facilities, said David Nelson.

Curators Robert Peterson and Robert Greenwood and visioneer David Nelson have plans to repeat the fest next year. They want to make the performers available to the audience over several days of performances and talks.

The minicine team has taken an off-the-beaten-path site and shown the city that it - also called the Shreveport Waterworks Museum - is a world-class performance complex. With quietly deluxe style minicine transformed a moribund historic center into a sensual wonderland.

Imagination. Teamwork.
Art and value added.

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