These events are held at NachtLab, an electronic music-focussed space far from Amsterdam's city centre. On arrival, everyone was handed a Subpac. Think of this as a backpack that transfers low frequencies and bass directly into your body. Before entering the room, 4DSOUND creative director John Connell gave the guests a couple of pointers with regards to the upcoming hour, the main one being: in order for the experience to be as immersive as possible, try to completely forget about the Subpac. Admittedly, this was difficult at first, given that I'm so used to feeling the bass externally from a sound system. But quickly, the strange feeling faded and by the end it felt quite natural.
One of the initial questions I had before experiencing 4DSOUND was how up-tempo techno would sound on the 16-grid system with the Subpac on—my gut feeling was that the Subpac would be better suited to low-tempos. In the second half of his live set, Mulero proved me wrong, giving the crowd a taste of the Subpac's powerful bass with tracks like "Involuntary Response" and "Anatomical Variation." It was especially interesting to see how Mulero controlled the 16-grid system, using 3D-mapping software and a custom-build interface to manipulate the sound in different ways. Some of his more ambient tracks, such as "201 Element," seemed to unravel themselves almost organically, as the kicks and hi-hats fluttered through the room, hitting you at various different heights and angles.
After the show, Mulero lead a short Q&A with the guests, and from the sounds of things everyone took something from the event. On my way out, I was told that 4DSOUND is currently talking with a number of big festivals throughout The Netherlands about hosting special 4DSOUND stages, complete with the grid system and Subpacs. If it comes off, it'll be a welcome addition to any festival experience.
Photo credit: Jerry Knies