If DVDs were migratory birds, then we should reasonably expect there’d be all manner of experimental audiovisual discs gliding across the skies by now, showing no respect to national borders and glistening in and out of our lives. Why isn’t this the case? Leaving aside the horrendous distribution splicing of the globe into ‘regions’, which stops DVDs from one region playing in another, there seems to be a lack of creative harnessing of the DVD’s technical potential. For the most part we get feature films with added behind the scene commentaries, but thankfully the likes of the Cinematic Orchestra are slowly swelling the alt.dvd shelf.
Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark
The ever-stealthy Ninja Tune cats have long been enamoured by the flickering of lights. Knowing the label was founded by av pioneers ColdCut probably explains their enthusiasm for shifting the territory of album releases to include films with soundtracks, much audiovisual clippery, and even software to splice it up. Neotropic, Funky Porcini & Hexstatic have all delivered tasty av in recent years, and you can now add The Cinematic Orchestra to that list – with their just released ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ DeeVeeDee.
Dziga Dziga Dziga
While that sorta reads like someone transcribing an early scratch record, it does in fact allude to the infamous director behind the 1929 Soviet celluloid classic, The Man with a Movie Camera, a film which uses radical editing techniques and cinematic pyrotechnics to portray a typical day in Moscow from dawn to dusk. Dziga Vertov was part of the Kino Eye movement of Soviet film-makers who wanted to create cinema different to literature or theatre, an artform that transformed our perspectives of the everyday with the unique capacity of the camera and technique to show us the world anew. To create a cinema that had its own “rhythm, one lifted from nowhere else, and we find it in the movements of things.” And Dziga Dziga Dziga ( whok whok whoooook ) especially loved to explore the ways technology and the mechanical enhanced our lives, extending our vision by strapping his camera in all manner of weird places to take our eyes where they had not been before – such as the underside of moving trains etc etc.
Red Curtains Then
In late 1999, Ol Cinematic J Swinscoe was asked by the Portuguese festival organisers if the band wanted to score a soundtrack to Dziga Dziga’s movie, and the seeds were sown for a 21st century soundtrack to what has become a landmark film. Quite an undertaking, and one with a certain responsibility to do it justice. Where perhaps in the spirit of Dziga Dziga zigzag, we might expect the soundtrackers to explore the use of machines to take our ears someplace new. And indeed, the laid back jazzy swerve of the Cinematic Rock Opera is imbued with a restrained amount of machinic manipulated sound. They’ve been performing it live in cinemas to rave reviews everywhere, and the disc also includes a few snippets of these performances which look and sound a treat indeed. the Disc is great value though – bringing a classic film with soundtrack worth listening to by itself, interviews, edited remixes of the movie, various live grabs, super8 versions and biographies etc. Check it out thru ninjatune.net