At 9pm CET on 4th April 2020, take part in the interactive premiere of Mikołaj Laskowski's new composition. To enjoy the full experience of 'Deep Relaxation vol. 6: Sound Isolation', you have to follow the composer's instructions. If you do, you as a listener will become part of the performance.
Filip Lech: Are you composing during the quarantine? How does it affect your work?
Mikołaj Laskowski: Yes, I am. The concert season is on hold, music institutions aren't functioning, so for me it's time to work on projects which I otherwise wouldn't have time for. It's also a way of dealing with anxiety and a feeling of hopelessness. Composing gives me the impression I have control over a tiny part of reality, and that can be therapeutic.
FL: What's happening in the world right now has an impact not only on health and economics, but also on the world's audiosphere. How has your nearest soundscape changed?
ML: It's changed a lot. Actually, it's changed for the better. The city noise has been much reduced. I can't hear any airplanes, the background traffic noise is almost inaudible. You can listen to the wind, the birds, the insects. It's like suddenly a whole new sound world has been uncovered, all those tiny sounds have finally come to the surface.
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FL: You've been inspired by New Age music and aesthetics for a long time. Can you tell us about this fascination? What makes it a viable source of inspiration?
ML: Well, I'm just very nostalgic about the 1990s, about the era of my childhood. Part of my memories are quite idealised. I perceive the decade as some kind of utopia, despite the not-so-great economical and political situation. It was a time of huge, traumatic transformation, and the New Age movement was a big part of this period in Poland. It brought simplified answers to our constantly changing reality. So for me, it's a symbol of great change, but also of trauma. I'm also in love with the otherworldliness and esoteric kitschiness of New Age aesthetics, they inspire me a lot.
FL: Tell us about your new piece.
ML: I've been working on participatory performances for almost two years, and almost from the beginning, I'd wanted to do an online version. It had felt secondary to live events though, and there was no urgency. Everything has changed recently, and I've finally had the time and mental space to work on the idea.
Deep Relaxation vol. 6: Sound Isolation is a video-guided sound session. It can be performed by everyone in their own home. The piece is based on sounds that are only audible to the people performing and listening to them. The listener/performer just needs to get a pair of in-ear headphones, plug them in to their computer or device, sit down in a quiet place and follow the directions in the video.
The traditional relationship between the composer and the listener is left deconstructed; the listener becomes a performer but can also be a composer to some extent – the piece leaves some room for improvisation and exploration. The piece also allows focusing on your body and you hearing, which isn't always possible in a traditional concert situation. In the end, I also hope that it manages to create a tiny little moment of togetherness.
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