“7 Pleasures” est une expérience sensorielle à part entière. Si elle explore la manifestation physique de la sexualité, elle défriche également sa représentation auditive, par un jeu complexe mêlant sonorités synthétiques et bruits des corps en mouvement. I/O a interviewé Peter Lenaerts, responsable de la musique et du son.
Did Mette Ingvartsen have a precise idea of what she wanted in terms of sound & music?
She did to some extent. She wanted to use Will’s “Breaking Bones” again and she wanted techno music in the beginning. She also wanted music or sound throughout the whole piece. So from there we first spoke a lot about concepts and then tried out several ideas. By the time the perfomers joined, the groundwork for the soundtrack had been laid out and the rest was made and composed together with them. That way the piece grew very organically.
What about the introductory sequence? It sounds like the heavy beating is there to harmonize the heart rates of the audience.
It’s all about sensory saturation and overload. The tempo of the music is similar to your heart rate when you’re exercising or having sex. The subs are so deep and low that they hit you in the chest and gut with each beat and yes the volume is so loud that you can’t speak anymore. We want to clean out your ears and let the music knock you around a bit so that when it stops, you breath a loud sigh of relief, and thus contribute to the soundtrack.
How was your approach of the silent parts? The challenge seems to be able to hear the sound of the bodies themselves…
Real/digital silence is extremely dramatic, especially in big theatres, and especially when you are using music or sound as well. In order to control the silence, I quite often use recordings of real and empty spaces, so called room tones. When these are played back at a low volume, most people won’t hear it as a soundtrack but as the sound of the theater they’re in. This lets me work subliminally, and get under the audience’s skin without them being aware of it. I can then also push up the volume and morph what felt like silence into soundtrack or cut it abruptly for dramatic effect. I love the irony of how cutting the sound (silence) becomes the loudest moment in the soundtrack and I quite often construct my soundtracks around this moment of (digital) silence.
Are there any mics on stage?
There are several mics on stage that are mainly used to amplify small sounds and actions in order to create a zoom effect on the one hand and a temporary short circuit in the brain on the other hand. Something happens to our perception when we see something far away but hear it close by. It somehow sucks us in and makes it very tactile.
What about the auditive impact of the finale scene?
One of the key concepts in the soundtrack is “space”, as in the room in which sounds and music happen and resonate. It seemed only fitting to let the piece end on that note and let the performers have a vocal exchange with the space: they make a sound and the space answers back. This was done through a very simple technical process: microphones record the sounds the performers make but only play them back after a short delay. This creates a slapback effect that in its turn sets up a groove, a pulse with which the performers then interact.