First of all, congratulations on Aura. Your new sound-and-light show in Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica is the trippiest thing I’ve seen since the Division Bell Tour. To be fair, that ‘93 Floyd show was, ahem, enhanced somewhat, so Aura may well be the most mind-boggling spectacle I’ve ever witnessed. And I went to Kosmic three times in the nineties!
Aura was spellbinding in the same way that The Exorcist is terrifying. I’m not a religious person, but by augmenting the Basilica’s abundant Christian iconography with your nifty projectors you established a suitably reverent tone. I mean, Christ’s radiant heart was striking enough in an oil painting, but when it started glowing, and then beating — complete with audio effects — I started looking around for a crucifix to brandish during the 20-minute introductory walk-through. When I couldn’t find one, I asked for directions to the chill-out room.
As with any visit to the Basilica, my gaze kept returning to the illuminated high altar, choir stalls and altarpiece, what with all the saintly statues, decorative woodwork and soaring vault festooned with angels and stars.
But all this was nothing — nothing — compared with what followed. After taking a seat in the pews, my attention was directed to the ornate sanctuary in front of me where, basically, the Basilica went off.
It started quietly enough, with spotlights falling on various works of art and animating the statues. As the orchestral music swelled, the vault suddenly morphed into a giant glass dome through which falling leaves and dancing snowflakes could be seen. The rain, thunder and lightening of spring dramatically concluded the seasonal second act, with rising waters appearing to inundate the Basilica — rather presciently, it turns out — and then shatter the virtual glass high above. My head felt like it was on a swivel, à la Linda Blair, when dozens of laser beams shot out from near the altar toward the back of the nave, where the 32-foot-tall Casavant Frères organ dutifully unleashed its 7,000 pipes upon me.
Honestly, I’m feeling a bit buzzed just writing about it! As you’ve already done with the Atlantic City Boardwalk and the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona — and, more recently, with the wintry Lumina Borealis in Kingston — you really hit this one out of the park.
Trust me, I’m not trying to flatter you. Aura was a sensory treat I’ll never forget. So, on that note, I have a favour to ask: Can you help with my Halloween decorations this year?
Think of it as a challenge. Aura was impressive, sure, but the Basilica gave you plenty to work with. Now, imagine how you could transform the plain brick facade of an outrageously overpriced Toronto semi!
Aura’s widely venerated setting probably prevented you from doing everything you wanted. (I can only imagine the conference calls with the Archdiocese.) At my place, however, you’ll have full creative license to traumatize young and old as you please! Why stop at a roof-shattering flood when sharks, zombies or even shark-riding zombies could come pouring in? Throw in a couple of orange-haired vampire presidents, and...
Sorry for getting ahead of myself. I’m sure you have your hands full with your upcoming $39.5-million illumination of Montreal’s Jacques Cartier Bridge, so I don’t expect an immediate reply. And if you’re somehow unable to complete our project by Oct. 31, please don't worry: My saggy inflatable Santa could use your help, too.
Adam “Roland Doe” Bisby