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Saturday, May 2, 2009

The One They Call "The Prodigy"

My friends and I with CDs and posters from Aman Amun

With more than just a little bit of enthusiasm, my friends and I walked into the Lamar Dodd art building for Aman Amun's debut live show last night. As we eagerly awaited the nine o'clock hour, we checked out all of the student artwork that adorned the walls for the multiple exit shows that were occurring at the same time. I've got to say, the pieces in this art show were some of the most beautiful I've seen! Also, the interactive works were absolutely fascinating. Still, nothing could keep us from the lure of the auditorium and the promise of a musical experience like no other.

Long before the show started, people began lining up excitedly outside of the auditorium for his performance. While we were waiting, a few of his friends gave out free CDs to the audience, always a good way to start things off. Finally, it was time for the show to begin. As we filed into the dark auditorium, we were greeted by pulsating lights and mysterious fog. Soon the place was standing room only, and Aman Amun appeared. Rather than welcoming the audience to his show in a standard way, he opted to use a smart board (monome) behind him to draw words with lights on the screen while soft music played. It was a wonderful way to pull everyone into the celestial world of Aman Amun.

After introducing himself, he started off the show with the deeply moving "Opportunity Cost" which was supplemented by an incredible visual display of color that appeared on the screen, drawn by the music itself. Sadly, the screen froze halfway through the performance, but this merely gave me an opportunity to close my eyes and feel the music. His next song was one of the newer ones that I first heard at his performance on WUOG radio a few weeks ago. This time, the screen worked as it was meant to, and a rather abstract, bulbous shape materialized above him, growing and changing as the song continued. I felt immersed in the experience, and I was nearly overwhelmed by the amalgam of art and music that surrounded me. He followed this song with my favorite, rather danceable tune "Scapegoating" which incorporated the use of the monome again and some sort of pen pointer device that directed the appearance and movement of the lights on the screen. As the face of the screen changed, different sounds and melodies flowed from it, matching the beat of the song. Honestly, I've dreamed of seeing the live performance of this song ever since he released a video of it a few months ago. To see it perfectly executed right before my eyes was absolutely amazing.

The original scapegoating video

I'd be lying if I said I understood any of the technology behind Aman Amun's performance. The screens interacted with his songs in a way I've never seen, and the machines he used, many of them self-made, brought the performance to a whole new level. One of them recorded his voice and his guitar playing in real time and then played it back to the audience at his command so that he could harmonize with himself. Another machine electronically altered the tone of the music, making it sound even more otherworldly than it already did. Essentially, his display of music, art, and light blew me away, and I wasn't the only one in the audience who remained frozen in their seat after the show ended, unable to jump so quickly back into the real world. The show was, without a doubt, a work of pure brilliance!

Next Friday, I'll be seeing Aman Amun's alter ego Brian again, this time with his band Crumbling Arches. They will be opening for the well-known band, the Presidents of the United States of America at 40 Watt on May 8th! As an after-finals treat, I'm sure this will be a show to remember. Don't miss it!

**Note (4/5/09): The Presidents of the United States of America are unable to come due to an unspecified family emergency. I feel deeply for whatever parties are involved. However, Crumbling Arches will now be playing a FREE SHOW at the 40 Watt that night. Trust me, this is what your ears have been waiting for!

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