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Save the Tank: Musicians unite to preserve an acoustic marvel in northwestern Colorado

Save the Tank: Musicians unite to preserve an acoustic marvel in northwestern Colorado

Back in 1976, while traveling around northwestern Colorado, composer and musician Bruce Odland was introduced by locals to the Tank, a sixty-foot-tall water tank outside Rangely. Odland used a circular portal to go inside the never-used tank -- and immediately knew he'd entered a very special sonic wonderland. Since that day Odland has embarked on many recordings and performances inside the chamber, where a single note can reverberate and decay for forty seconds or more.

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Originally intended for a railroad project that was never completed, the Tank was eventually acquired by another musician for a dollar and has been put to good use by an eclectic group of enthusiasts -- including jazz trumpeter Ron Miles, percussionist Mark McCoin and "sound artist" Odland -- who call themselves Friends of the Tank.

So far the Tank has weathered rust, graffiti, vandalism and desolation, but the Friends have been hatching a more permanent plan for preservation. They want to add solar power, an Airstream trailer doubling as a control room, outreach to local schools and the Tank Channel, "an online community where we can share what has been and what will be created there with a worldwide audience." So they've launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $42,000; donors can get everything from CDs recorded in the Tank to a chance to record their own sounds there.

"As a vocalist, this has to be one of the most remarkable and unique experiences I have had," singer Lois LaFond says of her experiences in the tank. "The act of 'letting your voice go' is unparalleled when you are in the Tank. I remember the first-time feeling; not only is there a totally pleasant confusion of where your own sound is coming from, but -- more so -- where it is going, what is going to happen to it, where it lands, and with whom. Eyes closed, I would hear a note moving up and around me and I was convinced it was my voice. It wasn't."

Other performers have described the Tank as a place of transformation and inspiration, awesome reverbs, "inner space" and unique acoustical effects. "If sounds were paintings, the Tank would be the Sistine Chapel," says Odland.