Following the Sound: Sonorium’s Experimental Music Experience in Salem

Sonorium is a concert quite unlike anything you’ve ever heard before, and calling it a concert is probably a stretch, because Sonorium is an experience.

A longstanding tradition in Salem, MA, Sonorium hosts a talented group of cacophonous noisemakers and experimental musicians. This month, you can experience the wonder of this event on Saturday, May 25 at 8:00 pm at Salem Access TV on Derby Street and again next month same time, same place, on June 20th.

Several years ago, Sonorium started as a space to feature non-mainstream music and non-conventional ways of making music. At first, it was difficult for the organizers to find a place to host the event before finding their current location at Salem Access TV.

“I’m convinced that it’s important to expose audiences to new music,” says Sonorium organizer Andrea Pensado. “And while even people who are not interested in art [still] have some awareness of abstract, sound [art] seems to be more difficult to comprehend.”

With experimental music, the sounds may not be structured or familiar but the movements still contain narrative and emotion, with a lot of the artists using improvisation to strengthen the effect.

“Many sets are very personal, so emotionally they can be very charged, sometimes hilarious, sometimes with darker overtones,” Pensado explains. “Sound can be harsh, loud, very mellow; most times artists use some electronics but not necessarily, there are also lots of musicians who play traditional acoustic instruments with new extended techniques.”

Because of this alternative way of structuring and creating music, even with the same lineup of musicians no two Sonorium shows would ever be the same. However, Pensado also makes a sincere effort the make the shows as aesthetically diverse as possible, featuring both prominent and emergent artists in the non-traditional scene.

Plus, it’s not just music. Some of the acts are performance-based and involve art, poetry, and comedy. Experimental music encapsulates the idea of sound itself and has grown to include not just avant-garde composition (Cage, Stockhausen, etc.) but also various genres and sub-genres including electronics, noise, free improv, concrete music, sound poetry, sound art, performance art and all sort of hybrid and unclassifiable sound related expressions.

The May Sonorium is this Saturday, May 25 at 8:00 pm with tickets costing $10. The performers will be Semi Sounds (Boston, MA) – objects / radio / personalities, +Dog+ (Sudbury, MA) – noise / performance, The Mystery (Somerville, MA) – guitar / loops / poetry / cheap theatrics, and Nadia (Portland, ME) – electronics / performance / butoh.

For some idea of the kinds of things that could happen at Sonorium, Adam Kooken from SATV has been videoing the shows for the last two years or more.

TAPS – Chris Strunk and Brendan Murray (electronics and drums)

Crank Sturgeon (noise / performance art)

Brittany Carlson (double bass / performance)

Marcia Custer (electronics / comedy)

Pelchat / Weston / Bosse trio (free improv / percussion / guitars / electronics)

To learn more, go to www.sonorium.net

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