From backstage a few musicians are blowing into their instruments. On stage, the female workers are fidgeting: “What a weird brass band!”. Alone with his guitar, Julien is launching a serenade for his beloved one. In the workshop, they are crying out in unison: “What a nice voice!”. In the distance, the brass band is playing the same tune, “Well done, well done, well done, well done!”. Then Louise: “What pain! What atrocious torment!”. Then the women together: “What sweetness!”. Julien is furiously striking the strings of his guitar. Gertrude: “What’s wrong with him?”. The apprentice: “Is he losing it?”. By multiplying such cues, the composer is jostling different styles around, he is tangling different feelings into a stretta which confers madness to interpretations. After so much haste, Louise’s tune, “Since the day I gave myself away...” opens act 3. Louise is an opera which was made at the time when cinema was trying to synchronise images and sounds; it was written by Gustave Charpentier in 1900 and made into a film by Abel Gance in 1939.
With the advent of radio and sound films, this interlude between two acts simultaneously proposes a catalogue of musical situations, in or off, a raw editing of modulated expressions as well as a tangled accumulation which defies listening itself. Ah, music! An outsmarted announcement, an exclamation whose very meaning is hinted at depending on the way it is spoken.
Stop Making Sense: Jonathan Demme’s film, which is being shot as The Talking Heads concert is unfolding, resumes with this tough challenge: let’s just stop making sense. The audience cries out, whistles, applauds, remains in the darkness. From backstage are all the show staff to be seen. The camera movement, from feet to heads, may be forgotten. The here and now of the stage is enhanced by all the cinema’s tricks. The guitar player has a tape to play, he is singing Psycho- Killer, “Ce que j’ai fait ce soir-l.. / Ce qu’elle a dit ce soir-l..”. As a tribute to the recently deceased film-director, David Byrne rekindles life into this psycho killer who is fumbling for words, losing his language, and stuttering in a shaky music the riddle of a tragic ending.
In Kasper Collin’s film, I Called Him Morgan, trumpet player Lee Morgan’s shortened career is a minor news item. Recalling the swiftness of his presence in the history of jazz is a necessity, as shown by some essential archive footage. Paying attention to the long silence of his wife, Helen, is a gesture of bravado. Among all the noise and the whistling, everything revolves around a single audio tape.
Between a slap at and a caress to his guitar, Arto Lindsay is splashing on stage the various facets of his music. Paula Gaitan shoots in black and white, in a moving closeness, Subtle Interferences. Swaying between a song with Brazilian roots and an imperious type of guitar-playing, not just naive and experimental, all this echoes for a long time as words themselves remain rare. Much like a sonata with four movements, between silence and the surging of a soliloquy with unexpected consequences, between muffled rumour and explicit noises, between icy light and restless shadows, Hoe kamelen leeuwen worden by Lydia Rigaux establishes, between the camels and lions of her title, the rifts between characters whose bluntness is astonishing.
A gallery of portraits showing some radioamateurs in a listening pose sets in gradually in Diana by Simon Ripoll-Hurier. Other people, more or less noisy, are passing by. Not all the steps that are necessary for this arrangement are described in detail. Expectations are delineated through a closeness effect.
In La Lucarne des rêves by Cendrine Robelin, all characters are composers, or nearly so. But what’s truly essential lies elsewhere. If the introduction suggests an origin for musique concr.te with Pierre Schaeffer’s figure, what follows prioritises attitudes, ways of doing things, attempts at grasping. How do you catch a sound effect?
FIDLab has already underlined the connections between Kekszakallu, the film by Gaston Solnicki, and the only opera to have ever been made by Bela Bartok, Bluebeard’s Castle (in Hungarian, A Kekszakallu herceg v.ra). The transposition harnesses music in order to project it onto a contemporary, everyday scene. Teenagers on holiday weave the folklore, the parents’ house makes up the architecture, the blue colour is that of summer.
America, Brazil, Hungary or Argentina...South Korea, with Banseom Pirates Seoul Inferno by Jung Yoonsuk, the spontaneousness of a musical duet coincides with the peculiar places where their actions unfold. A cranky music in a world of banks where ubiquitous technology is exacerbated with energy, provocation, know-how, humour, fragility.
Do they Dream of Robot-Astronauts? by Sarah Del Pino has a camera showing some pieces of agricultural machinery. No word is spoken. An automaton’s viewpoint disturbs sensations to such an extent that it stultifies any environmental discourse by moving a farm and a few human beings to an ominous planet.
Le géographe manuel, Socrate or Chaillot by Michel Sumpf rearrange the lines wrought between music and architecture in a humorous way, in order to make shots which are suitable for a rereading of scores by Erik Satie, Maurice Ravel or Jacques Ibert.
The sounds of a vehicle are in tune with the images shown of a town where the beloved person seems quite near. In Vers cette neige, vers cette nuit, Fabrice Lauterjung suggests an alternating game wherein images and sounds desperately long for a meeting. The memory of a fleeting moment morphs into the expectation of a future. At that very moment, Louise’s melody reverberates anew:
“And I shiver deliciously
At the sweet memory of the First Day