It’s been nearly 50 years since composer and sound artist Bruce Odland first crawled through a drainage hole and into the 65-foot water tank that is now known as The Tank Center for the Sonic Arts. He’s since added a door, and over the past five decades, The Tank has flourished into a haven for musicians and audiophiles alike, serving as a recording space and concert venue.
The Tank was originally built in 1940 near Rangely, Colorado, and was purchased decades later by one of Odland’s friends for a mere $10. By the time Odland started the Friends of the Tank group in 2013 to save the structure from demolition, the old water tower had become a cherished musical hub in the community.
So what makes this colossal steel structure so sonically special? Structurally speaking, The Tank was built on uneven gravel, resulting in a gently bowed floor. This, coupled with its cylindrical shape and concave roof, causes sound to bounce between the floor and ceiling, resulting in a distinctive reverb that is unparalleled. “Even a cell phone beeping sounds beautiful,” Tank board member Matthew Simonson says, referring to it as a “spiritual home for sound enthusiasts.”
Experience it firsthand during Open Saturdays this month and next. Bring an instrument, your voice, or just yourself to revel in The Tank’s symphonic bliss. It’s also available for private recording sessions with top-notch equipment. For a concert, Rangely’s annual Septemberfest features harpist and electro-acoustic composer Zeena Parkins, along with drummer Scott Amendola on September 9.
Whether you opt to lay back and listen or craft your own melodies, Simonson promises the drive out west is well worth your while. “When I finally went, I regretted not going much earlier. You’ll find yourself saying ‘I can’t wait to go back.’”