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Interview

Music meets neuroscience as Brainstorms: A Great Gig In The Sky arrives at Frameless

We chat to Gala Wright and Richard Warp, the creators of the new immersive experience inspired by Pink Floyd


Few albums in the history of recorded music offer a guiding hand to the uncharted depths and cosmic highs of the human mind like Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. Released in 1973, the album is a conceptual epic that examines the existential forces that push and pull our lived experience, and yet musically it was their most accessible; no longer needing the drawn-out, psychedelic jams of their earlier work to achieve a sense of higher meaning. 

At its centre is ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’, the soulful, screaming contribution from keyboardist Richard Wright that for many says so much about life and death without saying anything at all. It’s this classic track that provided the springboard to Brainstorms: A Great Gig In The Sky, hosted at Frameless immersive experience, that promises to blend music with neuroscience in “a world first.”

Richard Warp and Gala Wright working on Brainstorms: A Great Gig in the Sky, at Frameless
Richard Warp and Gala Wright working on Brainstorms: A Great Gig in the Sky, at Frameless
Photo credit: Antonio Pagano

The origins of the Brainstorms go back a few years to when designer Gala Wright, Richard’s daughter, began thinking about ways in which she could honour her late father’s contribution to one of the most acclaimed albums of all time as it approached its 50th anniversary in 2023. Gala wanted to find way to celebrate both the song and the album more creatively than releasing another boxset, while safeguarding the music to protect its legacy and let it continue speaking for itself.

The band themselves had launched a competition looking for animators to create music videos for any of Dark Side‘s ten tracks, but an encounter in 2021 with the sound designer and audio technologist Richard Warp hatched an idea to take this one step further. “Letting the music directly drive the visual seemed like the perfect way to celebrate Pink Floyd and the album,” says Gala.

Pink Floyd - The Great Gig In The Sky (50th Anniversary Competition Winner's Video)

Warp is the creative director at Pollen Music Group, a studio utilising cutting-edge technology in the worlds of AI and neuroscience to completely reimagine traditional uses of music, and so was seemingly exactly what Gala was looking for. “We both have a mutual fascination and a passion for how music affects us on a mental level, on a cognitive level,” says Warp. What is actually happening to our minds, our mental activity as we listen to music habits change? So it was a really great fit, because we both wanted to explore this.”

Step into Frameless’ Marble Arch gallery on Fridays and Saturdays throughout June and you’ll find four themed rooms that each explore the mind’s reaction to music in different ways to the tune of Dark Side Of The Moon. The so-called Aurora gallery will perhaps attract the most attention. Last year the Pollen team partnered with Dolby to capture the brain activity of 125 volunteers, one of the largest data collections of this kind, as they all listened to ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ in Atmos quality. The EEG readings of this audience was aggregated and turned into visuals which comes to life in this part of the experience.

Brainstorms: A Great Gig in the Sky, at Frameless
Photo credit: Antonio Pagano

“When you have music and visuals, it’s still a sort of 2D experience in that it has two dimensions,” Warp explains. “What we’re bringing to it is a third ‘D’: data. We’re infusing the experience with data and communicating what that data means to people in an immediate way. I think people will definitely come away with a deep appreciation for exactly how we experience things on a fundamental level and hopefully learn some interesting stuff beyond also having a great night out.”

Visitors will also have the chance to have their brain activity recorded while listening to Dark Side Of The Moon, while another room tells the story of a mother and child, Imogen Heap and her nine-year-old daughter to be precise, whose brain data has been translated to flocks of starlings that embrace and release depending on the levels of their musical enjoyment. “That musical enjoyment is defined as a particular pattern in the brain signal that we’ve analysed,” adds Warp.

Brainstorms: A Great Gig in the Sky, at Frameless
Photo credit: Antonio Pagano

This kind of technology has been developed by Warp and Pollen over the last 10 years, so when he describes the final part of the experience as “taking the rural surface emanations of the brains of the creators of the experience and representing that as surface emanations of coronal activity,” it’s a relief when Gala chimes in to explain that as “sun flares, in other words”.

“There’s an opportunity to see how our brains are responding to music,” Gala continues, “how they’re responding similarly or how they’re responding differently in an immediate and intuitive way – and also in a very pretty way.” Brainstorms can be enjoyed, then, by those interested to learn more behind the science or simply those looking to dive into the aesthetic, visual beauty that has come to define Frameless’ interactive installations.

If the technology has been a long work in progress, it’s the scale that makes this event unique – the scale of its data collection, the footfall expected to visit and the “game changer” scope of the state of the art studio space that has helped turn an idea to a reality.

Brainstorms: A Great Gig in the Sky, at Frameless
Photo credit: Antonio Pagano

All eyes and ears (and mind activity) are on Brainstorms, then, as it sets to launch this weekend. “It’s a huge responsibility for me, you know,” Gala admits. “Even if you don’t know much about Pink Floyd, most people know that they’re fairly hands-on and very restrictive about what they allow to happen, so this is really an amazing opportunity to push this music into a department it’s never been in before. Everyone wants to do an immersive Pink Floyd experience; in our little way, we’ve been able to do that, and it’s a big deal. For me, that’s slightly terrifying, but also exciting.”


Brainstorms: A Great Gig In The Sky, featuring the music of Pink Floyd, runs Friday and Saturday nights at Frameless throughout June. Find tickets here.