Hyper-Rainforest is an 80-Channel Feast of Sound at RPI’s EMPAC in Troy

Due to overwhelming demand, EMPAC has added TWO ADDITIONAL performances of Francisco López’s Hyper-Rainforest this weekend forFriday, April 29 + Saturday, April 30 at 9:30 PM.

The composer describes his Hyper-Rainforest as an “immersive concert-installation for a double dome, 90-speaker surround array.” But that needs an explanation in plain english.

All of us have been stopped in our tracks by an unusual sound, wondering, “What was that?” Sometimes it is frightening. Other times pleasant, natural. It makes us realize how much the noise of daily living has removed us from nature and the joys of discovering our fellow creatures. Perhaps that is why no place on earth makes a better destination for mysterious and musical sounds than a Rainforest. Nowhere else will you encounter such variety.

Composer and explorer Francisco López knows these mysterious places well. He’s been visiting them with his recorder for a decade. Next week he debuts his Hyper-Rainforest piece at EMPAC at RPI in Troy, NY on three evenings, Thursday, Friday, Saturday April 28-30, 2011 at 8 PM in the Concert Hall. More than just sounds, it’s an experience that you should not miss.

Seen from above you get one image of a rainforest.

The original source materials are both random and targeted. López and his teams meticulously gathered source materials from an amazing variety of locations. These exploratory “Mamori Art Lab” trips are ongoing and open to the public, and with his volunteers they represent one of the most diverse collections of animal, insect and forest sounds in the world. The sounds are genuine, yet when making them, the sources are mostly invisible. It is dark, damp and dense in nature’s most lavish expression of creativity.

As López describes it, Hyper-Rainforest has been developed and structured as a site-specific concert-installation for the Concert Hall of EMPAC. It operates with a specially installed large multi-channel set-up consisting of a large number of speakers arranged in two imbricated domes around, above, and below the audience, as well as a sound spatialization system that combines automation and manual live control. It is thus a sonic immersive experience where the traditional ‘tools of illusion’ (microphones, speakers) that are typically used for mimesis (Both Plato and Aristotle saw in mimesis the representation of nature) or simulation are instead turned into phenomenological probes (understanding nature from a sensory level) and generators of hyperreality.

López then blends all these sounds, thousands of them, in snippets, passages, loops and the like, building them into an 80 channel composition that can only be compared to (yet is totally unlike) a symphony orchestra. Some sounds are in the foreground, others recede, or repeat rhythmic leitmotivs. An obbligato howler monkey may do some bel canto bellowing over the chirping frogs and a florid flock of parrots or toucans.

From the ground, the rainforest looks completely different than from above

Hyper-Rainforest is a monumental sound piece, both in duration and in how the sounds are projected to the Concert Hall. All music in this performance stems from field recordings—but it does not simulate the natural reality of the original locations. Instead, the work creates a sonic hyper-reality, a virtual world of sound and music that goes beyond a trip to a rainforest. The original materials are observed, analyzed, and composed to create a piece that surrounds the audience, moving deep into the sounds themselves and toward new sounds still rooted in their origins.

Haydn had his “surprise” symphony in which he followed a quiet passage with a thundering chord, and López uses this device frequently in earlier iterations of his rainforest work. They are natural exclamation points. The end result is a hyper-reality of sound, a cleansing wall of sound that overpowers the grit and toxins of daily life and replaces them with the feeling of wonder that only nature can create.

This world premiere commission was developed in residence at EMPAC. The original environmental recordings were done between 1990 and 2010 at multiple locations of tropical, sub-tropical and cold rainforests in: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Gambia, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Japan, Senegal, South Africa, USA, Venezuela.

Tickets are required and are available through the EMPAC box office for $15 general admission; $10 for students, seniors, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute faculty and staff; or $5 for Rensselaer students.

Evelyn’s Café will open at 7 PM. Parking for this event is available in the Rensselaer parking lot on College Avenue.

Additional event information can be found on the EMPAC website: http://www.empac.rpi.edu/. Questions? Call the EMPAC Box Office: 518.276.3921.

Francisco Lopez and his colleagues travel to the world's rainforests in order to collect the sounds of this vanishing world.

About Francisco López

Francisco López

Francisco López is an internationally recognized sound art and experimental music artist. He has 30 years of experience in sound creation and environmental recordings, and has been involved in hundreds of sound installations, field recordings, and concerts in over 60 countries.

His extensive catalogue of sound pieces (with collaborations with more than 130 international artists) has been published worldwide by more than 200 recording companies. He has received three honorary mentions at the Ars Electronica Festival (Austria) and is the recipient of the Qwartz Award 2010 (France) for best sound anthology.

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