Earlier this month the ‘Sony Multi-Room Sonic Wonderland’ took place at The Roost in Dalston, London, an ‘immersive dining experience’ in association with food experimentalists Bompas & Parr. Based around research by Professor Charles Spence of the Crossmodal Laboratory at Oxford University, it invited guests to test how music can affect taste, as part of the launch of Sony’s multi-room product range.
The Audio Antechamber offered ‘sonic infused cocktails’ and interactive sound experiments including a signature-to-sound board and a touch sensitive plant with a musical interface. Guests were served a Sonic-Aged Old Fashioned – deep bass music had been played through the casks to ‘agitate’ it – and a Shaken and Tuned Martini, mixed with a tuning fork, which when hit on the drink tray, resonates at a constant pitch, allegedly to ‘energize’ the drink molecules.
The Sonic Cleanse Chamber aimed to act as an oral and aural palette cleanser through a meditation session with ‘malic acid’ shots, a natural mouthwash. John Cage’s As Slow As Possible was played, followed by a sonic sweep of frequencies that ran the full range of human hearing.
A three-course dinner was then served in the Taste Sound room, with shifting sound and colour-wash lighting in the hope of enhancing the dining experience. The first ‘gastronomically balanced’ plate contained elements of all the core flavours correlating to the orchestral symphony that was played; the second aimed to make connections between pitch and taste, where savoury would become sweet as the music changed; and dessert was served to pop music thought to intensify sweetness.
It was fun and the rooms well-devised, food tasty and drinks plentiful. Discussion of the products themselves, their functionality or performance often seemed a little shoehorned into the proceedings though. Another guest commented, “I want to play with the products, put my music on. I’m not sure what the point is.” I too came away not much wiser about what Sony’s multi-room gadgets actually do.
But perhaps that’s too literal an objective for events like this, which take the sweet and scenic route when it comes to product demonstration.