Drew Silverman’s Gorintō

A quintessential work which surpasseth all understanding with beauty

How many arts events have I attended over the years, events in which music composed and/or performed by Austin’s Drew Silverman was part of what made the experience enjoyable and memorable?

Well, memorable or not, I’ve lost count of the number. But: Many of those events were Silverman-enriched, as a trip through the Chronicle arts archives reminds me.

That didn’t prepare me for what the man did with his Gorintō project at Ground Floor Theatre last night, though. It only hinted that that Gorintō gig, as presented in conjunction with Church of the Friendly Ghost, was going to be one of the year’s sensory highlights no matter what came before or what might follow.

This success was due to a number of things. Those numbers that they say there’s safety in, you know? Those numbers that add up. Those numbers and their abstract existence that permeates (and on some level regulates) our understanding of reality – much the way that music does, or that music can do when it’s done (whatever we mean by) right.

Let me tell you: It’s one thing to be ushered into the Ground Floor’s staging area, to see how that space has been transformed into what looks like a sort of louche seraglio – with rugs and cushions and pillows and so on in comfortable profusion.

It’s another thing to actually lie there upon a rug, your denim-clad and all-too-human flesh bolstered by a friendly pillow or two, surrounded by a couple dozen other people, looking up at the ceiling where a sheet of fabric hangs and displays compelling video projections that grow brighter as the ambient lights dim into darkness.

It’s yet one more thing to hear, lying there, an original concert – “part soundscape, part classicist evocation, part sound bath, and part ASMR dream” – composed by Silverman and performed by Adam Bedell, Jessica Eley, Claude McCan, Fumihito Sugawara, and the maestro himself.

So that’s three things, not even considering the way each one of them might fractal inwardly or outwardly into patterns beyond counting. You might consider those ways, though, at least fleetingly, if you were lying there in the Ground Floor Theatre with fellow citizens and were nigh on tripping due to the odd and pleasurable waves of brilliantly orchestrated sound flooding the room and sending your music-loving mind somewhere that was making it very, very happy.

But there was a fourth thing about Gorintō, a fourth thing that maybe everyone had forgotten about. A fourth thing, which put the count at the Japanese number immediately before the number associated with an actual Gorintō and exactly at the number associated with death. Which is ironic – because the fourth thing about Silverman’s Gorintō was death’s opposite, musicwise. Because, when the concert was over, all the performers came out from behind the surrounding curtains for a bow, reminding us – or enlightening us if we somehow hadn’t realized it in the first place – that the incredible tapestry of sounds that had been woven around and through us for an hour – the sort of sounds that we’re more used to experiencing in recorded form – had been performed live.

The artists, the instruments, the audio engineer Chris Medders, the human-and-object totality responsible for the night’s textured journey, had been right there in the same room with us the whole time: working diligently and merely occulted, like the secrets of alchemy, behind a darkling scrim.

Damn. What a night.

So, yeah, I’ve attended a lot of arts events over the years, and many of those events have been abetted by the talents of Drew Silverman. But none of them matched this display of aural power and elegance. And I can’t wait to see – well, to hear, specifically – what the man does next.

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Gorinto, Drew Silverman, Church of the Friendly Ghost

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