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dates : 08/08/09 - 31/08/09

opening times:

Sat to Wed 10.00 to 18.00

Thurs to Fri 10.00 to 22.00

price: £5/ £2.50 or £10 with BBQ



Chalk Farm Road

London, NW1 8EH

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Last chance to go and try your musical talents on David Byrne’s installation at the Roundhouse, which will be dismantled on the 1st of September. Playing the Building is what the artist and co-founder of Talking Heads group is enticing us to do. Some may be familiar with this project, which I’ve myself seen quoted by many a student interested in architecture and sound, when it was produced in New York city’s Battery Maritime Museum in 2008. It is no surprise though, to learn from his website, that the project actually originated from Stockholm in 2005, a city with a vibrant and experimental musical scene.

I have to admit I did not try the bigger than life instrument myself, and instead gave way to my 3 ear old son and his friend and listened. The social part of this installation actually plays a big part in the experience, with some tentative and almost shy attempts at pushing the keys and trying new ones, to persistent hammering at the organ to play a single note. I found most interesting to recognise ‘real’ musicians, trying to discover the keyboard and its effects, the sounds this or that key would produce in order to be able to use them and improvise some sort of sequence. And they were indeed able to discover new sounds, which both surprised and enchanted not only themselves, but the audience around. To me, this installation was about discovery and the most successful at it were I’d say, the children, and the musicians, both inquisitive about this strange instrument.

The roundhouse itself is a place for further discoveries for music fans, as it was turned into an artistic venue and hosts many concerts since it was refurbished in 2006. I remember going there prior to this though, for an exhibition in the dark underground parts of the building and was eager to find some pictures about what it was like ‘before’ this mega-cleaning up of the place. Nothing. I couldn’t find anyhting. No plans, no pictures of the derelict and amazing space which once housed train engines. I’ll keep looking though...