By Reed Fischer
David Byrne's majestic installation Playing the Building comes to the Twin Cities in November. Following up his tour launch with St. Vincent in mid-September, it seems the ex-Talking Heads frontman is really taking a liking to Minnesota of late.
This 17,000 square foot installation is one of the most impressive things Byrne has ever concocted in his creative career. An organ situated in the middle of a massive room inside Warehouse District art destination Aria (formerly Theatre de la Jeune Lune) has the power to control an intricate system of pipes, beams and pillars situated in the walls to create a metallic symphony. Unlike pretty much anything else cool, there are no "Do Not Touch" warnings anywhere in this situation.
After an initial premiere in Stockholm, Sweden in October 2005, Playing the Building showed up at the Battery Maritime Building in New York in 2008 (and London in 2009). Gimme Noise was fortunate enough to visit the exhibit during the New York stint. And my, what a spectacle it was.
Because the different "notes" on the keyboard aren't build on a specific scale, this is not something that requires sheet music or any sort of musical skill. While it is a must to spend a few minutes sitting and experimenting with the different keys, the excitement continues as one walks through the room to figure out where each noise is actually coming from.
Clearly Byrne has a fascination with all sorts of tones and noises that aren't found in the typical pop music realm, and this exhibit gives people of all skill levels an opportunity to feel like they're controlling a twisted, industrial cuckoo clock.
I'd recommend giving yourself multiple visits.
Playing the Building runs Monday, November 5 to Tuesday, December 4 at Aria, 105 N. First St., Minneapolis. According to Twin Cities Daily Planet, Byrne will be in town for the opening night.