“I think I might have joined a cult…” Omphalos @ Invisible Wind Factory — Reviewed

Laura Robertson tries to recall an evening of pseudo-science, divine ritual and camp, James Bond villainy at The Kazimier’s new venue…

I think I might have joined a cult. Or have I been hypnotised? I’m confused, so I look back at the evidence and try to remember what happened last night.

My clothes smell of smoke. In my bag, I have something called a Certificate of Attainment, and I remember it being thrust into my hand by a robed monk as I emerged, applauded, from a dark place. In the dark, I remember distorted, Gregorian-style, Laurie Anderson-esque, choral chanting; lots of thrown voices, “oomphing” and “egh-ing”, from within pluming smoke and fire and electric percussion. At least four people levitated. And did I see one of Satan’s missionaries emerge from the bowels of the earth?

No, this isn’t a scene from the glory days of 1960s/70s sci-fi/horror cinema, like Rosemary’s Baby, or The Devils, or TV series The Invaders; it’s some amalgamation of these things, but more avant-garde, bizarre and (even) more entertaining. It’s The Kazimier’s fantastical new production and it’s called Omphalos: Eternal Energy; a stage show-cum-live-art-performance-cum-existential-initiation. The pop culture references come streaming in, the more I recall.

“The first feeling was of stepping into a 007 villain hangout”

The first feeling was of stepping into a 007 villain hangout; most probably comparable to the volcano lair from You Only Live Twice. It felt secret. A massive grey hangar with uniformed people milling about, operating machinery, purposefully driving those little golf carts. In the centre, a glamorous, dead-eyed receptionist wearing a red dress answered a bank of silver telephones. Signage, everywhere, in that recognisable Kazimier typography, the one that looks like art-deco futurism (think Metropolis).

One of the staff members — beaming, clad in a khaki boiler-suit — instructs us to switch off our mobiles for “our own safety”, or something along those lines. She gives us a guided tour; evangelically describing the Invisible Wind Factory’s achievements in harnessing an unknown energy — “invisible wind”. Walking us past several display stands, she described how the company had launched four “Empyreanauts” into the sky and four “Khthonauts” into the earth to research and capture this new power; pointing us to smiling portraits of the team and tiny television screens showing them undergoing flight tests.

“‘Everybody can be a vessel for Invisible Wind!’, she proclaimed, eyes shining”

The Empyrean/Khtho-auts, however, did come back slightly changed; as would we, apparently, when we experienced the “chamber”; hidden at the end of the tour behind floor-to-ceiling black curtains, this was the amphitheatre to which we were all headed. “Everybody can be a vessel for Invisible Wind!”, she proclaimed, eyes shining. Some of us giggled nervously. Herded into queues, by guides that had changed into khaki robes, the intensity was racked up. An American man in a beige suit gave us all a booming, official welcome; asking us not to be alarmed, and again warning us not to use our phones. “We don’t want any of this falling into the hands of the Koreans!”, he said, solemnly. I scanned faces, recognising a mixture of trepidation and amusement.

What was going to happen next? We walked through the curtains, of course. And the joy is in the mystery. You see, I don’t really want to spoil the fun. The trepidation, nervous tension and venture into the unknown — i.e. what’s behind the curtain — is what makes this experience worth… well, experiencing. All I can reiterate is those snatched memories: darkness, smoke and hell-fire; levitation; the dark arts. Lustrous, celestial beings, channeling Egyptian queens, Sun Ra and medieval witches. A mash-up of pseudo-science, divine ritual and camp, Bond villainy.

As we emerged, blinking, back onto Liverpool’s docks, clutching our certificates, my friend turned to me and asked: “What just happened?”. I don’t know, but I liked it very, very much. And if I have joined the Omphalos cult — my lingering feeling tells me that I have — then bring on the ascension into the Eternal Energy.

Laura Robertson

See Omphalos: Energy Eternal at the Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool, from 19-22 May 2016. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets (£25)

IWF Launch Party feat. Dogshow x Omphalos, EVOL DJs (Rome) and Phillip Jeck Spins Disco: Friday 27 May 2016, 8pm, £12 (booking required)

Invisible Wind Factory, 3 Regent Road, Liverpool, L3 7ED

Twitter: @invisiblewindf // @thekazimier

Sneak-peek: see inside the Invisible Wind Factory with photographer John Johnson

Posted on 19/05/2016 by thedoublenegative