L.A. Times in the ‘Tank’ for Colorado

An old water tank is now a recording destination in Rangely, Colorado

The Tank is attracting acoustical explorers to Rangely, Colorado. (Photo: David Kelly for the Los Angeles Times)

Recording in an abandoned railroad water tower called “the Tank” has become all the rage, drawing musicians from as far away as New York and even Germany, writes David Kelly in a Sept. 18 piece for the Los Angeles Times entitled “Forget Carnegie Hall. Musicians flock to rural Colorado to play the Tank.”

A 65-foot high rusty water tower that traces its origins to the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad and is god-knows-how-old has attracted all manner of singers and instrumentalists to the town of Rangley, five hours from Denver. There, they record in the 40-foot wide space, which offers acoustics New York composer Bruce Odland described to Kelly as “a cathedral ‘wow’ factor times 10.” 

Odland recorded in the Tank, which he said “bent and elongated each note with its concave roof, smooth walls and warped floor. And with no means of escape, the reverberations went on and on and on. “

At one point the thing was headed for the scrap metal heap, but Odland rallied “Friends of the Tank” to step in and save it, navigating the permitting processes of the small town of about 2,200 residents and even the town council to turn it into a musical destination.  A Kickstarter campaigns in 2013 and 2016 drew funding of more than $100,000, enough for Friends of the Tank to purchase the structure and some surrounding property. They wound up adding upgrades including lighting a recording studio into a railroad car that had been donated for the cause.

The result is the Tank Center for Sonic Arts, which now has three employees, one of them helping out with sound engineering. The Denver-based hip-hop group the Flobots and Grammy Award-winning Roomful of Teeth are among those that have played there. The hope is that the Tank can help revive Rangely, which has suffered in the wake of declining oil and gas prices.

Thus far, there are no known film or TV projects to record there. Who will be the first to boldly go …?

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