Music Review: "Sonic Vision" at Manhattan's Hayden Planetarium

1/03/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Jess Bender

Music can go well with just about anything. It can make excruciatingly long car rides bearable, movies more complete, and subway rides entertaining (although they can become awkward when the musician in question begins to panhandle for change). Music can even make great things more spectacular. Case in point, I have just discovered how great planetariums are with an alternative soundtrack.

On selected Friday and Saturday night, Manhattan’s Hayden Planetarium and MTV2 present “Sonic Vision,” a one-of-a-kind roller coaster through outer space and trippy fantasies. Created in 2003, some of the graphics and musical selections are slightly outdated. For the most part, though, the aged combination of both made for a fun experience.

Before even knowing that he collaborated with MTV2 on this show, I thought that “Sonic Vision” would be perfect to highlight some of Moby’s best songs. One of his songs, “We Are All Made of Stars,” popped up while sailing in between the stars, but I had no idea that he mixed all of the songs included in the 35-minute feature. All the songs flowed well between transitions, and he chose some forgotten gems in the alternative genre. Thrown into the mix were U2’s “Elevation,” the now-defunct Audioslave’s “Cochise” and Billy Corgan fronted Zwan’s “Honestly." David Byrne and Brian Eno’s “Mea Culpa” was also tossed into a mix, although that section of the show was slightly frightening. The song wasn’t scary, but the image of a floating blue head that transforms into a skill is alarming. The scene that used Stereolab’s “Metronomic Underground” resembled the setting of the Tron world, while Prodigy’s “Firestarter” had, appropriately, fire coming out of henna-printed hands.

“Sonic Vision” isn’t exclusively playing in New York City. The show also can be found at the Milwaukee Public Museum’s planetarium, although the exhibit also made its rounds at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California. If I ever saw the Pink Floyd Laser Light Show, I would probably compare it to that. As a standalone, “Sonic Vision” is a unique experience for music lovers, art enthusiasts and planetarium obsessers alike.

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