WTM #1074: Cinematopia

wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3

Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies
30 November 2009 // 16.30-18.30

“Soundtrack albums are the hidden pleasures of pop. Composed and performed to accompany moving images, they’re emotional enhancers.”
• Jon Savage


“Who knows why the memories of the mornings, afternoons, and evenings of our lives become so inextricably linked to the notes blown into the air by a silly radio
broadcast of a little, vulgar orchestra.”
• Pier P. Pasolini, “My Fascination with the Juke Box”

“…it is the ever-present possibility of a new life for the music surrounding us… [that calls] attention to music’s power of mediating between levels of reality, past and present, self and other, and even the split halves of the divided self; neither contemplation nor function, but meditation.”
• Giorgio Biancorosso, “Film, Music, and the Redemption of the Mundane”

Ice Pick Mike  > Lalo Schifrin
Un Chant d’Amour [A film by Jean Genet] > Simon Fisher Turner [Music from Films You Should Have Seen / Optical Sound]
Burroughs Bunker > Myra Davies [Cities & Girls / Moabit Muzik]
Raat Akeli Hai [Jewel Thief] > Asha Bosle [Cabaret: Songs from Films / EMI]
Un Chant d’Amour [A film by Jean Genet] > Simon Fisher Turner [Music from Films You Should Have Seen / Optical Sound ]
I Love You > Shabbir Kumar & Alka Yagnik [Pyar Ho Gaya / R.J. Films]
Familiar Ground > The Cinematic Orchestra + Fontella Bass [Ma Fleur / Domino-Ninja Tune]
Un Chant d’Amour [A film by Jean Genet] > Simon Fisher Turner [Music from Films You Should Have Seen / Optical Sound ]
Cirkels [Windmills of  your Mind] > Herman van Veen [alles / Polydor vinyl]
It Happened by Chance [S8 MM Film Diaries by Derek Jarman] > Simon Fisher Turner [Music from Films You Should Have Seen / Optical Sound ]
Niets Aan te Doen > Toots Thielmans & Roger van Otterloo [Turks Fruit / CBS]
Motion Pictures > Neil Young [On the Beach / Reprise vinyl]
It Happened by Chance [S8 MM Film diaries by Derek Jarman] > Simon Fisher Turner [Music from Films You Should Have Seen / Optical Sound]
Baden Baden > Modern Jazz Quartet [Coffee & Cigarettes / Milan]
Stuff > Myra Davies [Cities & Girls / Moabit Muzik]
It Happened by Chance [S8 MM Film diaries by Derek Jarman] > Simon Fisher Turner [Music from Films You Should Have Seen / Optical Sound ]
Bring Down the Birds [Blow-Up] > Herbie Hancock [Superbad / Warner]
Beauty > Willem Breuker & Johan van der Keuken [Music for Films 1967/1994 / BVHaast ]
Sweetback’s Theme > Earth, Wind & Fire [Superbad / Warner]
The Architect’s Building > Lalo Schifrin
It Happened by Chance [S8 MM Film diaries by Derek Jarman] > Simon Fisher Turner [Music from Films You Should Have Seen / Optical Sound ]
Woh Mere Pichhey Padi Hui Hai [Ponga Pandit] > Kishore Kumar & Chorus [Cabaret: Songs from Films / EMI]
Comment Voulez Vous? > Jean Constantin [The Adventures Of Antoine Doinel: Original Music From The Films Of Francois Truffaut / Milan]
Dance With Me > Nouvelle Vague [Bande a Part / PIAS  ]
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly > Hugo Montenegro
It Happened by Chance [S8 MM Film diaries by Derek Jarman] > Simon Fisher Turner [Music from Films You Should Have Seen / Optical Sound]
Julien Dans L’ascenseur > Miles Davis [Ascenseur Pour L’échafaud / Verve]
Theme de Liz [J’ai Cracher sur vos Tombes / Vian] > Alain Goraguer [Jazz & Cinema vol. 1 / Universal]
Les Loups dans la Bergerie > Serge Gainsbourg / Alain Goraguer [Jazz & Cinema vol. 3 / Universal]
Theme Tennis [Les Vacances De Monsieur Hulot] > Alain Romans / Jacques Tati
Flying Machine [The Chase] > War [Superbad / Warner]
Criswell Predicts > Mae West [The Fabulous Mae West / MCA vinyl]

photos 1 & 3 by WTM, #2 by Foto Sifichi.

I see the world as a film and I am walking through it as an extra playing myself not quite right. When I’m in Paris I see everything through a camera lens it seems. I am seeing attractive women, lanky-legged walking toward me [I do not film them walking past or through me]. When I lived in Paris I was a regular in the cinemas in the St. Jacques area off Bvd St. Michel behind the Sorbonne for 18-franc matinees and emerging from the aromatic dark, I would live out the great forgotten classics or Truffaut and Godard, and head to the Luxembourg Gardens to write a story that would refuse all endings and so hundreds of stories that burst forth and end with no discreet resolution.

Simon Fisher Turner’s new CD “Music from Films You Should Have Seen” is that perfect confluence of concept and sound, making film music for under-regarded films. It works on numerous levels as great soundtracks should: they enhance the images, do not overwhelm the story or characters, stand on their own to project imaginary films on the backs of your eyelids and as you listen you begin to be absorbed into this audio film – life’s soundtracks enhancing your mundane movements from here to there and back again.

I experience films more and more often from the perspective of the soundtrack. This is similar to my experience in restaurants. The better the soundtrack and atmospheric music during a dining experience, the more likely the food will taste better, the conversation will be enhanced and the evening will be something to remember. Some very memorable dining/imbibing experiences include leaving bars where the music restricts conversation to misapprehended snatches of conversation to which you just nod your head yes assuming that yes will mean you will not lose her ti the din. Me and Nina have left restaurants where they are playing a commercial radio station or heavy metal during appetizers. There are too many soundtracks to count that are irritating to the point of annoyance and distraction where you just think, what the hell were they thinking. Predictability, rote sounds, canned emotion, sappy strings, songs with lyrics that refer directly to the action taking place. All of this makes it seem that many directors have NO idea what to do with music, soundtrack or incidental or otherwise. It’s as if they are contractually bound to include a certain amount of music. And, indeed, by the 1980s, films were obligated/burdened with an over-abundance of contemporary pop soundtracks.

This is why when you hear a good soundtrack you are unaware of how good it is because it has an immersive quality whereby the sound and image are one urging your mind and flesh into its midst. Godard in one of his late-1980s films [“Nouvelle Vague”?] makes fun of invasive/distracting soundtracks when, during a conversation, one character says something like “Do you hear that music, where is that music coming from?” Referring to the swelling soundtrack…

SFT’s brilliant pastiched quilt of sounds beckons instant images or thoughts of images even if you have never seen these films. It is as if he is saving you the trouble of having to see the films while also calling attention to these wrongfully neglected films.

Why I love soundtracks, by John Savage The Guardian, Saturday 12 December 2009
This dramatic quality, coupled with the depth of sound-field in full cinema reproduction, ensures that many soundtracks stand apart from their parent films as a listening experience. There are so many examples: Jack Nietzche’s Performance, Nino Rota’s Giulietta Degli Spiriti, Roy Budd’s Get Carter, John Barry’s Beat Girl, to name but four. Then there are the instrumentals designed for cinematic use, like Brian Eno’s Music For Films collections. Stretching it even further is Gerry Arling and Richard Cameron’s Music For Imaginary Films – 14 tunes, each with its own mocked-up poster design…. Simon Fisher Turner’s Music From Films You Should Have Seen, is a perfect example of this imperative. The first track is designed to accompany Jean Genet’s Un Chant D’Amour. Beginning with cool jazz and near-eastern hints of Lloyd Miller’s great Lifetime In Oriental Jazz, it then shifts through a bit of industrial and theremin, all underpinned by a deep ambient roar.
Turner is best known for his association with Derek Jarman, a director almost preternaturally alert to the possibilities of image and sound. Beginning with Caravaggio (1986), he composed the soundtracks for Jarman’s The Last Of England (1987), Edward II (1991), The Garden (1991), and Blue (1994). Based on a series of reverberating guitar, synth and vocal loops, track two, It Happened By Chance, is the soundtrack for a 2004 exhibition of Jarman’s Super-8 films. The blurred, dreamy quality of Super-8s often brings out the best in musicians, and Turner’s 30-minute piece hints at Throbbing Gristle’s soundtrack for Jarman’s In The Shadow Of The Sun, the best thing they ever did.
The final track comes from The Invisible Frame, a 2009 film by Cynthia Beatt in which she retraces the bicycle ride taken by Tilda Swinton along the Berlin Wall in 1988’s Cycling The Frame. In the intervening 21 years, this concrete, militarised zone has been overtaken by urban wilderness or rampant redevelopment. Based around samples of cellist Natalie Clein, The Invisible Frame is more conventional, but the rapid-fire strings evoke a mittel-European sense of time passing and loss that evokes Berlin’s complex psychogeography. Turner’s soundtrack makes you want to see the film, fulfilling – like the whole CD – the instruction and the promise contained in the title.

I love the film music to many films but believe that Miles Davis’s soundtrack to Louis Malle’s great 1957 “Ascenseur Pour L’échafaud” may be the single best soundtrack in history. There are many others: I like “Diva” many of Truffaut’s, especially “400 Blows,” some Bernard Hermann such as “Taxi Driver,” of course, some of Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone but also Wim Wneders’ early films and Herzog as well as the ingenious sounds and soundtracks to Jacques Tati’s films. Some of Willem Breuker’s collaborative work with Johan van der Keuken, the leftist agit-prop filmmaker are absolutely stunning. Serge Gainsbourg’s attempts to out-string and out-do his “rival” John Barry [genius of the big orchestral swell and Jane Birkin’s ex] are charming and in their own way more interesting than John Barry’s.

Toots Thielman’s atmospheric and ambient jazz harmonica lends itself well to creating ambiance and this is most clear in the great Dutch film “Turk’s Fruit,” a kind of Dutch version of “Last Tango in Paris.”

I have here concentrated on mostly French oriented soundtracks but it could go to Antonioni [Blow-Up is great for sound] or other Italians, ghetto films, Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Melvin van Peebles but also some very modern/younger types.

I also played “Dance With Me” by Nouvelle Vague, an ingenious song/video from their “Bande aPart” CD, referring, of course, directly to the Godard film of the same name. In the film there is a scene that takes place in a cafe when the revolutionaries do a song and dance number and it is to this scene that they set the music. It is just so exquisitely perfect it takes your attention away from the fact that half of the rest of the album is somewhat underwhelming compared to their debut and that their conceit of loungy easy listening versions of new wave and punk hits may be growing thin. For me it is mostly the less than inspiring choice of some of the songs they parody and play off of…


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