The Subtropics festival's events, which span across two weeks, will feature improvisation, custom electronic instruments, or unusual acoustic techniques. 'The music functions as a way to help you understand how sound speaks about what’s around you, help you connect with your environment, in ways that we don’t when we’re simply being intellectual or visual,' said Gustavo Matamoros, festival director. 'The ear is our gate towards connecting with things.'
Since its launch in 1989, the Subtropics festival has offered South Florida a multi-day event focused squarely on experimental music and sound art. This year the two-week Miami Beach festival starts with a symposium on sound and architecture, then relaxes into a series of concerts.
If you are percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, you take ten gongs, make your own bows, truck them around the country, and assemble an ad-hoc ensemble in each city to magnify that experience into something acoustically mind-blowing.
A gong hangs suspended from its stand, light dancing across its bronzed surface, each hammered dent hinting at some mysterious overtone waiting to be released. If you grab the right mallet and strike it, that light turns into sound, the complex interplay of indentations drives the air, caresses your eardrums, and vibrates your body. The sound swells, fills the room, and gradually dissipates.
When Miami native Aaron Lebos was a kid, his parents told him to choose between violin and piano. "I chose piano," he says, "obviously." But his big brother played electric guitar, and he wanted to too. He thought it was "cooler." Eventually, he got his hands on a guitar of his own and made his way through jazz studies programs at Miami Dade College, University of Miami and FIU.