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5 Shows We'd Like to See at HMNS' Burke Baker Planetarium

You can see my card, but my ID number is between me and the HMNS.
You can see my card, but my ID number is between me and the HMNS.

Recently I decided to put down the cash and become an honest-to-God card-carrying member of the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I find that walking the halls of the HMNS is a fine way to kill a few hours before a concert.

There is a part of the HMNS that I hold near and dear to my heart, even though it doesn't quite get the respect it deserves from some of my peers: The Burke Baker Planetarium.

Although the laser light shows of the past are a distant memory it still strikes me as a space with the potential for unique musical presentations. They still run one show featuring a famous band and a celestial object (more on that in a bit) which gives me hope for the future. Now that I'm a member, maybe they'll take the following suggestions under consideration.

5. Artist: DJ Spooky Celestial Object: Jupiter

Paul Miller finds inspiration everywhere. He's remixed The Birth of a Nation, collaborated with Slayer's Dave Lombardo, and traveled all the way to Antarctica to record field samples, which he built into a symphony.

With its four moons and Great Red Spot, there's plenty of material related to Jupiter that could provide him with inspiration. The decreasing mass of the GRS, which may eventually become as circular as a record on a turntable, is one of many things that could become the basis of a song.

4. Artist: The Album Leaf Celestial Object: Pluto

Post-rock seems built for this type of thing, but who do you pick: Godspeed You! Black Emperor? Too creepy. Explosions in the Sky? Too obvious. Stars of the Lid? We don't want anyone to fall asleep.

I just saw The Album Leaf live a few weeks ago and was impressed by both their songwriting and the way they were able to meld those songs with their video clips. Now that Pluto has been stripped of its planetary status, I think TAL could come up with a pretty nice set of work about the loneliness Pluto now faces.

 

3. Artist: Amon Tobin Celestial Object: The Sun

Anyone who has experienced Amon Tobin's ISAM live or has seen clips of it online knows that he's on a completely different level when it comes to video presentation. While his music can make for a challenging listen at times, the way he melds audio to video makes him one of the most exciting artists on the planet.

While the dome of the planetarium may be different from his ISAM stage setup that doesn't mean he and his visualization crew couldn't come up with some interesting ways to use the space. Sunspots and solar flares are only a few of the parts he'd have to build something with.

2. Artist: Tool Celestial Objects: Planets Outside Our Solar System

I understand their inclusion here may seem like a weird choice. Although they could be classified as art-metal and aren't afraid to tackle big ideas in their music Maynard tends to be a songwriter that focuses in on the internal (feelings, emotion, the collective unconscious) rather than the external (outer space).

Still, they remain unique among metal acts the way they blend their music with art to present their songs. If radio waves can carry sound away from Earth and in to the vacuum of space then there's a chance something out there will hear it. How would they respond? What would they make of it? It's hard to say, but Tool are one of the few bands whose opinion on the subject I'd like to hear.

 

1. Artists: Pink Floyd Celestial Object: Earth's Moon

While they planetarium already has a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon show it's hard to recommend it. As Rocks Off head honcho Chris Gray discovered recently, the show came along back in 2000 and it shows. The graphics range from uninspired to completely obvious, which is a shame because Dark Side deserves better.

I would never suggest that the HMNS get rid of Dark Side because if you were going to have one rock show in the planetarium it would have to be that one. That doesn't mean it has to look like a Windows 95 screensaver, though. Find a new company with access to some new graphics packages and a bit of HD moon video and give one of the greatest albums of all time the video treatment it deserves.


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Houston Museum of Natural Science

5555 Hermann Park Drive
Houston, TX 77030

713-639-4783

www.hmns.org


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