Show Review: Purity Ring @ Union Transfer 1/29/13
And now for a review that is as unsettling and strange as the music of Purity Ring…
Imagine you are walking through the deep woods. It’s late at night and the moon hangs high in the sky. You’re a bit lost, but some voice inside you tells you, “It’s OK. You’re finding your way through.”
Then, finally, you hear it. You hear it before you see it. You push branches aside and there they are – turning light into sound and sound into light. Indeed, you have found your way through.
In the same way that being lost in the woods is disorienting so is Purity Ring’s music. That is the best single adjective to describe their sound: disorienting.
I’ve never before seen a stage show that reminded me of wild animals. The sounds and the lights were like wild things flitting about while a man and a woman try to control them. They try desperately to reign them in and harness and control their power. Fifteen glowing white cocoons hung from poles, high above the heads of the performers. Lights jumped between the pods with every beat of percussion. A giant translucent drum, hung sideways like a gong exploded with light every time it was pounded.
The only light and sound that was perfectly controlled and full of magic was the drum set. Of course, this was no ordinary drum set. Imagine about 8 softball-sized globes on the end of sticks like lollipops. With every tap, one of those little balls would light up in brilliant color and produce a sound like a bell.
This is music you listen to with your whole body. If you listen with only your ears, you are missing it. These sounds are designed to throw you off — to make you pay attention. Sure, there are rhythms, but there is no predictability.
Now, go. Go listen with your whole body and feel the sound of a frantic pinball shoot through your body and light up your organs with every bounce.