Murcof live, Peter Harrison Planetarium, Greenwich, 4/10/2007


Posted on Oct 8th 2007 01:58 pm

Filed in Live | Tags:
Comments (2)

Feature: Murcof Live, Peter Harrison Planetarium, Greenwich

Coinciding with the release of his third album, Cosmos, Murcof’s Fernando Corona recently embarked on a European tour, with a handful of special performances in Planetariums, the first of which took place at the newly opened Peter Harrison Planetarium, part of the Royal Observatory, in the superb settings of Greenwich Park. From the outside, the slick dark modern structure of the planetarium, situated between the main observatory and the South Building, which, until three years ago, housed the old planetarium, resembles a giant telescope pointing toward the sky, while the restored Victorian main building acting as a majestic earthy ground anchor. With the performance scheduled for an 8.30 start that evening, the lucky few who had manage to put their hands on a ticket were allowed to wander through the various galleries in the South Building until then.

As the doors of the planetarium opened and the crowd took place in the small venue, a member of the planetarium talked for a moment about the fortieth anniversary of the first Sputnik flight. Then, as lights began to go off, allowing for a star, then two, then a handful, to become visible against the dome, a gentle hum, sounding strangely like an air conditioning unit rose. As random constellations were being identified, the characteristic string brushes of Cuerpo Celeste became more obvious, slowly building into the second part of the piece, with its sparks of church organ and choir, discreetly underlining the grandiose aspect of the visual display. The deep pulsating bass, crisp rhythmic backbone and orchestral swathes of Cielo signalled a move toward the solar system, with the nearest planets to the Earth taking centre stage, their respective orbit traced against the dark backdrop for a moment.

The show took a complete new dimension with the dense sound formations of Cosmos I. Whereas, until then, the music appeared as little more than a gentle accompaniment to the planetarium’s display, as Corona progressively added layer after layer of strings, with echoes of chimes and bells in the background, there was suddenly a feeling of intricate correlation between the vast cosmic stretches on display and the music. After reaching its peak, the music began to withdraw, leaving for a moment the display to take the lead by taking a psychotic turn as vector rendering of constellations materialised and shot to the centre of the dome, giving them for a moment 3D depth. Later, as a circular set of stars appeared, each identified with a red line across it, the tube formed by this twisted upon itself, and as the camera floated over this roller-coaster-like formation at increasing speed and the music became once again bigger and much more complex, the room appeared to spin out of control.

After a few minutes of further psychedelic imagery, the audience was brought back to the solar system to the emerging sound of Cosmos II. As the piece became louder and denser, planets appeared at the centre of the screen, first looking no more than pin points against a far away sun, then growing progressively bigger until they flew to the right or the left, disappearing at the back. Saturn, Jupiter, Pluto and the sun were last, making superb counterpoints to the now thick orchestral lava arranged by Corona, which eventually came to an abrupt end as planet Earth, with the Moon in tow, took glorious place in the sky, leaving the audience silenced until well after the lights had come back up.

Icon: arrow Murcof | The Leaf Label | Peter Harrison Planetarium
Icon: arrow Further readings: Murcof interview | Murcof: Cosmos

Filed in Live | Tags:
Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Murcof live, Peter Harrison Planetarium, Greenwich, 4/10/2007”

  1. mapsadaisicalon 08 Oct 2007 at 2:33 pm

    What a memorable evening that was – great sound, great visuals, and the two knitted together perfectly. A review went up at my place a few days ago (slacker!).

  2. Beaumonton 10 Oct 2007 at 6:46 pm

    I saw him perform in Utrecht in Holland. No visuals, but an excellent soundsystem. Definetely worthwile to hear live, just for the dense yet expansive sound Murcof creates.