Empowerment. Engagement. Authenticity.

Review: Vox. In Fold. - 2022 pUsH Festival

Kristy sits in a folding chair against a wall while Shawn lies on a foam mat at Lobe Studios in Vancouver.

Shawn and I attended our very first “sound bath” on the evening of Sunday, January 23, 2022.

If you have to venture from your bubble, and you are blind or partially-sighted, it might as well be for a unique, low-vision friendly experience, right?

Shawn, my boyfriend and certified tech and sound geek, was fascinated by the feat of mixing and projecting sound from speakers embedded in the floor, the walls and the ceiling of a music studio.

Not that I’d ever set foot in a music studio but I certainly wasn’t expecting foam mats and cushions strategically strewn throughout a room bathed in soft pink light.

On a side note, I have to say that this pandemic has altered the feel of being in a room with other people. We filed into the space with a handful of others, some with companions, others on their own. If any of them smiled in greeting, it was hidden behind masks. No one spoke above indecipherable murmurs.

I found myself missing the cheerful noise of a theatre lobby.

We’d been invited to make ourselves comfortable. While I chose a very tippy folding chair, Shawn wasted no time in stretching out on a mat. His fingers, ever curious and eerily knowledgeable, immediately located the speaker near his head. I focused on a semi-circle of pink light ahead of me.

Then the room went dark.

“We should have been closer to the centre of the room,” Shawn said afterwards, “but it was still cool to get sound from all those angles. Did you have speakers behind you, too?”

I had no idea. I’m not in the habit of touching things around me, even before the extra precautions of a pandemic.

I was reeling from the impact the audio experience had had on me. I’ve never been skilled at mindfulness – that talent to immerse oneself in the moment and nothing else. I’d focused on that semi-circle of pink light and waited for my mind to wander.

It hadn’t.

The sounds submerged me much like the hot, soapy baths I enjoy every night, the rhythms ebbing and flowing but still grounding me in a captivating mix of beauty and belligerence.

In the aftermath, this accrostic shimmered to life in my mind:

Visceral, vibrant vocal and venerable

Orchestrated yet organic, over-arching, overpowering;

Xenial xenodochial,

Indigenous, intercultural, intrinsic,

Nomadic and natural,

Frolicking, frenzied, fresh and free

Opposing, obliging, outstanding,

Lamenting, lilting, lingering,

Diverse, diligent, diasporic.

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