Saturday, November 22, 2008

I've been watching some more films than usual recently, partly due to my newest housemate, guitarist David Stent and his much better taste in and knowledge of them than me. So it was great fun last night to take part in the Not-Applicable collective's Appliances #8 evening of film and music at Cafe Oto - I played with Isambard Khroustaliov to Martin Hampton's film Traum. The whole evening was excellent and I strongly recomment following the links on the event page where a number of the films shown can be seen online. It was beautiful as well to see Misha Mengelberg's film of the cat on the piano, which I've heard about but never seen before.
The night before that gig I watched Christopher Petit's film Radio On for the first time. Barely any plot or characterisation to speak of, shot in gorgeous black and white and with a fantastic soundtrack featuring Kraftwerk, Bowie et al. And yet it manages to not be some kind of glorified music video: there may be barely any plot or characterisation but there is not none. In fact, influenced by then-contemporary German cinema, it ends up feeling wonderfully cinematic, utterly impossible to imagine transposing it into any other medium.
Petit speaks in the accompanying interview on the DVD about the cinematic nature of driving, with the windscreen as screen and accompanying soundtrack thanks to the car stereo. My recent car soundtrack has combined three Kraftwerk records with some Delta blues (Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Johnson, Son House). A strange combination perhaps, but inspired by Kodwo Eshun's book More Brilliant Than The Sun where, on page 100, he observes that
Dusseldorf Is The Mississippi Delta. Kraftwerk are to Techno what Muddy Waters is to the Rolling Stones: the authentic, the original, the real.
The two kinds of music might seem contradictory: the rough, expressive folkiness of the blues and the clean lines and machine sounds of the Kraftwerk. And yet alternating the two is a very satisfying experience, and actually highlights connections: rhythmic drive, timbral detail, irony. I'd stop short of wanting to hear a Kraftwerk remix of Dark is the Night, Cold is the Ground though!
And finally just a couple of shouts out about new records: John Edwards and Alex Ward have both just released solo albums. I count both of them as friends but as I was first introduced to both of them by their music I don't think I'm too biased in saying that both are extraordinary works, chock full of imagination and (the right sort of) virtuosity. They both manage that delicate trick of sounding very characteristic and yet also surprising - following each musician's train of thought through their music (something solo records of improvised music allow one to do more easily than group recordings) is a pleasure.

1 comment:

Khroustaliov said...

Hey Dom, nice one for coming down, I'm glad you enjoyed the evening... would be great to get together again and plot some more trajectories... see you at Brunel soon I hope...