“Sound Tank” meets Bass Mekanik

“Sound Tank“ by Nik Nowak makes its US debut during the week of Art Basel in Miami Beach


At the heart of the “future of audio” are people – inspired individuals who dare to give shape to their creative vision and artistic imagination. Decision makers who prefer to reach their audiences and customers through great audio. Audio lovers who work relentlessly on innovative projects, who redefine and recreate sound experiences that touch the very souls of their listeners. “People” is dedicated to all those musicians, artists, engineers, producers, decision makers, owners and audio designers who fill and shape our world with sensational sound.

As one of the first artists in the Future Audio Artist Program, Berlin sound artist Nik Nowak is presenting his “Sound Tank” in the Miami club Gramps during the week of Art Basel in Miami Beach.

  • Author: Simon E. Fuchs
  • Photos: Nik Nowak, Benjamin Kahlmeyer, Edelgard Marquardt

It’s massive, innovative and loud. A light-gray tank has entered the club. But don’t be afraid, it’s not an attack. Rather, it's a challenge to the senses. The 1.5-ton “Sound Tank,” with its 4,000-watt speaker-wall that can be hydraulically erected, is parked across from Miami bass-producing duo Bass Mekanik’s Boom Car. The mobile sound battle will be hosted by London MC Infinite Livez and will be developed into an audio-visual essay with the help of video projections by Moritz Stumm. Nik Nowak’s collaborative “Sound Tank” performance in Miami’s popular Gramps club is part of Sennheiser’s Future Audio Artist Program. During Art Basel's show in Miami Beach, Nowak is showing his best-known work of art to the American public for the first time in an exclusive one-off performance.

A performance by Nik Nowak
with Neil Case and Dj Billy E. aka Bass Mekanik
Visuals: Moritz Stumm, Master of Ceremony: infinite livez, Video: Hiroo Tanaka, Masaya Kato
Music: Schockglatze, Warlord (Ikonika Remix) TMS Rec, 2016; DVA, DAFUQ, Hyperdub Rec, 2016
Schockglatze, Cheribibownsken feat. Infinite Livez, TMS Rec, 2016

The jury of the Future Audio Artist Program invited Nik Nowak to present his art during Art Basel's show. “My sound objects are both sculptures and functioning sound systems,” says Nowak about his art.

“The ‘Sound Tank’ is a hybrid of a Jamaican sound system, a tank and a stealth aircraft,” the artist says. Since 2011, Nowak’s sound tank has been deployed in clubs and festivals as well as being exhibited in galleries and museums. The “Sound Tank” is being shipped to Miami with the help of the Container Art Project, which ships art projects around the world for free. The initiative enjoys signifiant support from Saco Shipping GmbH, one of the largest independent NVOCC service providers in the world. The company has provided shipping solutions for exports and imports (LCL and FCL) since 1988, via water, land and air. They ensure that bulky works of art arrive at their destination intact.

The “Sound Tank” isn’t easy to transport. It was built on the base of a Japanese construction vehicle that Nowak bought on eBay. The artist knew exactly what kind of vehicle he wanted and couldn’t find this specific style of construction anywhere else. “The tracks are quite big relative to the vehicle, so that the unit looks more impressive, and it’s hard to tell the size from a photo,” he explains. He built a free-swinging speaker system on the hydraulically raisable bed. In total, three subwoofers, six mid-basses and four tweeters create a full and powerful sound. What does Nowak usually play? “Soundscapes, quotes and my own compositions converge into something that you could call a sound essay, “ he says.

Nik Nowak
„My sound objects are both sculptures and functioning sound systems.“

The sound artist grew up in the city of Mainz, on the Rhine River, in the shadow of a US military base. On the streets was sand from Iraq that had fallen off the American tanks. Even as a child, he had wondered what the point of war was and why something like the war industry existed. “Building the ‘Sound Tank’ was a form of resistance, an active refusal,” he says, explaining his inspiration. Nowak has engaged with the subjects of music and war not only from an artistic, but also from a scientific perspective. He has researched the potential effects of sound and the role sound systems can have as a cultural transmitter or in the form of an acoustic weapon. For his explorations of art and war, Nowak was awarded the GASAG Art Prize, which is given to exceptional works of art at the intersection of art, science and technology.

In presenting his “Sound Tank” in the US, Nik Nowak collaborated with Miami bass legend Neil Case, aka Bass Mekanik, artist Billy E. and video-artist and longtime collaborator Moritz Stumm, in order to create an exclusive performance that plumbs the psychic and physical potential of sound. There is probably no better context for the vehicle’s presentation than the popular “The Bass That Ate Wynwood” party in the legendary Gramps club. Under the motto “Sound Tank meets Bass Mekanik,” the work of art will remain on display in Gramps during Art Basel. Here, you can meet artists like Nik Nowak, who works with Sennheiser to develop exciting sound art. It is also a place to experience the spirit of Art Basel before the official opening.

„Building the ‘Sound Tank’ was a form of resistance, an active refusal.“

The “Sound Tank's” visit to Miami will be a kind of return to its roots. This, after all, is where the Miami Bass genre was invented -- a genre whose name makes it clear what plays the biggest role in the songs: pumping bass. Hip-hop is combined with rapid, electronic beats. Bass Mekanik is one of the idols of this musical genre, who, with his more than 20 albums, has played a large role in shaping Miami Bass. In recent years, Bass Mekanik has become a rare sight on stage, making it even more exciting that Nik Nowak has convinced him to make a guest appearance at Gramps.

But with his performance, Nik Nowak isn’t merely providing an unobstructed view of his art. During an Art Talk, he will be speaking with host Andreas Tölke at the Sennheiser lounge at the Art Basel venue about his performance in Gramps, his approach to art and his vision for the audio of tomorrow. The Jury of the Future Audio Artist Program will also reveal who will follow in Nik Nowak’s footsteps. The three selected artists will be able to present their works of art at the various Art Basel shows. Just as Nik Nowak is currently doing with his “Sound Tank” at Art Basel Miami Beach.

Here are the performance details:

Name: Sound Tank Meets Bass Mekanik
Location: The performance will take place at Gramps. 176 NW 24th St., Miami, FL, 33127, USA
Website: http://www.gramps.com/
Date: Wednesday, November 30, 9:00 p.m.
Details: Sound Tank Meets Bass Mekanik - Sound artist Nik Nowak from the Future Audio Artist Program will present an exclusive sound performance in collaboration with Miami Bass legend Neil Case. Featuring Infinite Livez (vocals), DJ Billy E and Ultramoodem aka Moritz Stumm (visuals). The performance will take place in the Gramps club in the heart of Wynwood as part of the monthly “The Bass That Ate Wynwood” party.

Nik Nowak