Decibel Fest Day 1: Severe Druidry at the Chihuly

“PLANTS DO NOT MAKE THIS SOUND,” an older woman yelled from the back of the Chihuly Museum Atrium.

She was wrong.

Mileece, the caped British artist leading last night’s opening gala for Decibel Festival, was in fact harnessing plant sounds.

On a stage that looked staight out of the woods surrounding Rivendell, Mileece attached electrodes to the leaves and flowers on the plants surrounding her, their electromagnetic fields generating a sonic babbling that sounded like the rustling of mythic animals in a shadowy glenn. The druid vibe got heavier when Mileece slipped on electrode gloves attached to what looked like ancient vines. When she waved her hands around in the air like a sorceress, the electric current the sensors in her gloves detected altered the soundscape of the plants. Mileece would occasionally lean over and begin blowing on what looked to be a flute made out of a stick attached to her mic stand. All the while, Andreas Leonardsen sang in a sort of elven Bon Iver quaver while Serena Tideman accompanied the botanical witchery on cello.

While the piece was conceptually fascinating and visually hypnotic, I spotted three audience members in the front row who fell asleep during the performance. It’s hard to blame them—the music could easily be packaged and sold on CD as a sort of ambient sleep aid (and I mean that in the best way possible). The show was a magical, uncharacteristically quiet kickoff to the bumpin’ week Decibel has in store for the week ahead.

For Decibel-goers who are looking for more plinkery soundcapes to zen out to, check out Hauschka today at the Nordstrom Recital Hall at 8:10. He puts ping pong balls in his piano.

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