TORONTO – Daniel Lanois’s planned premiere at Nuit Blanche certainly doesn’t lack for ambition.
With “Later That Night at the Drive-In,” the Grammy-winning producer plans to convert Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square into a “forest of speakers,” where the open space will be littered with sound and picture pods onto which Lanois will project experimental sound clips and short films.
If that all sounds a bit too heady, though, the Quebec-born, Hamilton-raised music producer has an accessible ace up his sleeve for the Oct. 2 festival: he’ll also premiere some tunes from the upcoming Neil Young album, which he’s producing.
“At the strike of midnight, we will premiere four tracks from the Neil Young record, visually and sonically,” Lanois said in a telephone interview this week.
“Lucky for us, we’ve been filming him as well as recording him. So the performances on the record are captured on film, and we will premiere that on the night of Nuit Blanche.”
Lanois’s contribution is one of 130-plus projects planned for the fifth instalment of the annual festival, during which the streets and open spaces of Toronto are converted into a vast canvas for a variety of ambitious art projects.
A couple literal highlights? Bay subway station will be brightened by Daan Roosegaarde’s installation “Interactive Landscape Dune,” Kim Adams will install a sculptural lighthouse at the intersection of Yonge and Queen streets, while American artist Dan Graham’s reflective pavilion atop City Hall promises to produce effects “reminiscent of the optical effects of rock shows.”
Elsewhere, Julia Loktev’s video installation “I Cried For You” will feature actors crying on cue, Mark Laliberte’s “False Kraftwerk” will be a human puppet show inspired by the influential German electronic outfit, and Davide Balula’s performance art piece “The Endless Pace” will involve 60 dancers mimicking the movement of a clock over a 12-hour period.
Lanois said his piece, meanwhile, was devised by his son, Simon. Daniel Lanois, who’s currently recuperating from a motorcycle accident that left him with a fractured collarbone, pelvis and six broken ribs, will spend September in Toronto at a workshop preparing his piece.
The feature will be largely instrumental, with Lanois layering scored pieces with some live performance. Argentine dancer Carolina Cerisola will make the trip to join the production, and she’ll move alongside a local dancer, Lanois said.
The musical pieces will score experimental films being beamed to screens scattered across the square. Those will include a film created by Lanois himself, and one by his brother, Bob, along with contributions from other artists.
“Some of it will be revisiting the silent-movie era, where a piano player or an organist would score the film as people watched it, so some will be scored as we watch,” he said.
He plans to have cameras positioned to film the performances as they’re happening and beam close-up shots of the musicians in action out to the audience. And he said it won’t matter where an audience member is in the square, because the sound will be crystal clear throughout.
“That’s something I’ve been enjoying for the last few years, exposing the details of performance to the audience via screen,” he said.
“So even if you’re in the front row, you might not see the dancing fingers of a musician across an instrument, but magnification on a screen will allow you to see the details.”