The scene was surreal to say the least. Assemblages of every walk, social class and tribe congregating in the inner sanctum of the Masonic Lodge in downtown Asheville. Under the color spectrum haze of synchronized lights and psychedelic patterns projected on the back wall of the stage, I arrived. It was a little late into the first performance.
Two dancers, a man and a woman dressed in borderline pajama apparel contorting their bodies to the whims of ambient sounds like bells, knocks, winds, passing by train rides, laughter and many other things I couldn’t decipher. All strung together by a masterfully engineered through-line of experimental music leading all of us deeper and deeper into a hypnotic daze that resembled one of Terence McKenna’s favorite terms: confoundments.
Organized by George Kierstein and Michelle Fugate, the Eight Channel Seance proved one of the most ambitious sound experiences in recent memory. Resurrecting a near-forgotten sound process called ambisonics, music performers were performing complex compositions of various musical layers on-the-fly.
The process developed in the 70′s by Michael Gerzon of the Mathematical Institute of Oxford, England has mostly been reserved for use in modern day gaming. An even smaller demographic use ambisonics to experience classical music. It is one of the most refined forms of auditory experience. Artists like George Kierstein (aka Miss Interpret), Patrick Olin (aka Aetherael), John Brinker, Kimathi Moore, Elisa Faires Liz Lang (aka Auracene), Randy Spiers (Lux Vestra) coordinated a seamless performance of transitioning acts that afforded its audience not a single moment to become self conscious to the mystical ceremony they were involved with. Moreover once the novelty of the scene wore away and all of us grew accustomed to what was happening, people grew closer in some way.
Some people were sitting in the theater seats, others on the floor, and a few lying down, eyes wide shut in the truest sense. As relaxed as the scene appeared on the surface, it was clear everyone’s brains were piqued on Alpha waves as every dance performance grew more and more absurd and organically messy with accidental precisions that proved whole and complete when every set reached its conclusion.
Friends and strangers ended up moving around throughout the evening. Some were saying ‘hello.’ Others were just being near each other in an unspoken conversation that sometimes erupted into embraces. Almost as if the vibes (dare I say the telepathic) ambience drew unsuspecting people together, it became apparent to everyone a sense of modern day and secular communion was underway.
It was a most ancient evening made eclectic by the accompanying technologies that modernized its sacred primitive manifestations. It was as if all of us were teleported to a preliterate time. It was as we were back in the caves. The evening was engorged with the absence of confusing language. It was made secondary. Tactile experience was the primary delivery method of reality and we had awoken in some womb as we felt the music drown our intellects to sleep. It was a monastic retreat to remember the earliest of human memories; the most extreme form of nostalgia while enveloped in a 3D digital sound experience resounding a symphony of om and legend.