Saturday, January 29, 2011

Joy on a Saturday morning

 About once a week or so, I remember that I actually have a page or profile or whatever they call it on Facebook, and think, oh geeze – I had better take a look. Yesterday, being one of those days, that’s what I did. Naturally, one thing led to another, and the latter part of the afternoon totally evaporated - which is why I try not to do this too often.

One of the messages that hooked me was that my son-in-law, Micah Silver – a composer of music and soundscapes - had just posted a link to a project that he has been working on. For the past few months, he has been designing soundscapes for a restaurant called, What Happens When. It is at 25 Cleveland Place in Manhattan. My daughter, Sabrina, had first told me about it months ago, but until then I had never heard of the concept of designing a soundscape for a restaurant. Then again, I have never even been to Manhattan. At least, not yet.

I may have only grasped the half of it all, since I am pretty much musically illiterate, and am also old enough to draw a pension this year. These two things together mean that I can usually benefit from a tune-up by the younger folk when it comes to anything cutting edge. Regardless, the long and the short of this concept is that Chef John Fraser, who is one of the top drawer chef-types in New York, decided that he wanted to break out and have a bit of fun. Not that he doesn’t have a full plate already, since he already has a Michelin acclaimed restaurant, called Dovetail . I haven’t yet been there - obviously, first I would have to get to Manhattan - but his website is worth visiting, even if just to enjoy a vicarious feast.

This time round, Chef John’s idea of having fun included renting a space that had housed an abandoned restaurant. The cost of the space was low, relative to what costs are in that neck of the woods, because the lease could only be guaranteed for nine months. He then teamed up with a couple of designers from the Metrics Design Group, as well as Micah , and between the four of them, they created an environment where the three elements complemented one another: the food, the physical space, and the soundscape. Not only did the four of them create a plan for the first month, but they will be redesigning the whole enchilada every month –a different menu, different space, and different sounds. Only the address will stay the same.

In the first month, patrons will enter to the sounds of a sonic shower, and then as they go on to enjoy the rest of their dining experience, they will be surrounded by a compilation of sounds harvested by Micah from all sorts of sources. This will include the sound of snow as it falls and slowly covers plastic foliage, foliage which Micah once brought to Walden Pond in Concord MA for the purposes of recording this particular sound. There will also be recordings extracted from YouTube videos made by teenagers at rural bonfires. And for those who missed Micah’s recent installation, The End of Safari – it was at Mass MoCA, and I missed it too - there will be extracts from that soundscape as well.
Then, there is the bathroom. Don’t miss the bathroom. When you enter, you will hear a duet, but not only that, when you enter one of the stalls, you will hear only one of the voices from the duet. The other voice, natch, will be heard in the other stall.

If you want to read more about all this, there was a long article January 5th in the New York Times. Enjoy. UPDATE: If you come to this restaurant expecting the experience of the compositions and sound space created by Micah Silver, I regret that you are too late. To all good things ....

1 comment:

  1. This is SO beyond cool. Go Micah!
    I love it and shared it on Facebook, so I guess you better get back on FB and waste another afternoon:)