Standing in the middle of Summerhall’s ‘Small Animal Hospital’ with The Neutrinos’ vocalist Karen Reilly prowling in and around the audience, fearlessly holding eye contact as her KlangHaus colleagues (bandmates Mark Howe, Jon Baker and Jeron Gunderson alongside visual artist Sal Pittman) batter their instruments in the four corners of the room, is an intense experience. Gone are the usual certainties of stage and stall and the safety these barriers bring. Here it feels like anything can and will happen.
Described as an exploration of the ‘extremes of performance with small audiences in intimate spaces’ that seeks to put ‘the breath back into listening’ in a world of electronic communication, Klanghaus begins in a tiny lift. When the doors open we are invited to walk through a projected image and to explore several rooms. Lights are low, smoke fills the air, paper birds hang frozen in flight, something moves in the shadows of a cage and then a beat begins.
Over the course of fifty minutes we are guided through more and more rooms of increasingly elaborate design. The music never stops with performers cleverly manipulating the mix by moving through the space putting all aspects of the building’s fabric to use. Intimate moments are heightened by squeezing everyone into a small room while on one song, accents are created by opening and closing doors on the rhythm section.
As a spectacle it is intoxicating. A brilliant soundtrack created from an experimental sonic palette and a collage of intricate visual set pieces that flow into each other with beautiful simplicity all wrapped up in an unforgettable finale. It is one hell of a show.