In order to reach the side room in which Tim Hecker was performing the world premiere of his triple-sensory Ephemera show, at Luminato's Unsound Festival, one first needed to walk through the vast, abandoned space of the Hearn Generating Station. The scene was one of decadence meets dilapidation, as old structures and forgotten pathways were littered with signs of opulence: velvet ropes, crudités, cocktail glasses. There was even a garden maze before reaching the performance area itself, which was cloaked in a black veil so you had to dedicate yourself to entering the room in order to have any idea what was happening.
Upon entering, we were greeted by a pink fog of intrigue, in which your fellow attendees were barely visible. The scope of the room was impossible to gauge. Left at the mercy of its unknown boundaries, most of the crowd had to wander aimlessly until they hit the walls.
Hecker's whereabouts were completely unknown, but his signature sub-sonic warbles began to emerge from everywhere, surrounding the disoriented audience just like the fog before it. There was no stage, no beginning, no end, just an ethereal space that played on your senses. Hecker may very well have been roaming around with everyone else; one attendee swears he saw Hecker sweeping the floor at certain points in the show. Considering the mystic qualities of the space, it doesn't seem beyond the realms of possibility.
The music itself, an aspect of the performance that went largely unnoticed, was an ever flowing cascade of polyrhythms and thick thuds of bass-y ambience. Occasionally meandering into muted, post-rock guitar work and biotic flutters, his set was hugely nostalgic.
This was then reinforced by the olfactory performance of conceptual perfumer Geza Schoen. So, scent and sound collided in a beautiful crescendo, but perhaps most impressive of all was the visual aspect. In an entirely unique setup, the crowd itself were the visuals, as the shadows and barely definable forms of the audience weaved in and out of view to create an other-worldly experience; everyone seemed so close but so distant at the same time. Wraith-like in there presence, they hardly seemed real at all, more like an intentional construct of the show, hired to add effect.
The ever-changing colours finally made one last shift from vibrant yellows to soft violets, as the music itself tumbled down to nothing, leaving just a black light, which not only highlighted everyone's white attire but their significance as part of this distinctive piece. Ephemera is truly, unequivocally original — a sensory performance on a whole new level.
Tim Hecker will be performing Ephemera two more times for Luminato's Unsound festival, both on Friday June 19 at 8:30 p.m. and again at 1:00 a.m.
Note: No photos of this show were permitted for publication.