Summer 2001

The sound of inbetween-ness

Only Connect

Ornette Coleman / Howard Shore /Naked Lunch
Asian Dub Foundation / La Haine
March 2001, The Barbican, London

Despite the success of certain collaborations between sight and sound (think Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone), cinema is almost wholly spoken of in visual terms, something that the \'Only Connect\' concert series sought to address. It kicked off with four new experimental shorts, followed by Morricone conducting a concert featuring his greatest cinematic scores. Other explorations featured Outsider Art and Tom Zé, but the two most overt studies of music within cinema came from Howard Shore with the Ornette Coleman Trio and the BBC Concert Orchestra, performing the score from David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch, (based on the William Burroughs novel) and Asian Dub Foundation’s creative rescoring of Matthieu Kassovitz’s La Haine.

As a kindred spirit of Burroughs, Coleman’s interpretations would seem perfect for Naked Lunch, yet the Shore / Coleman performance, excellent as it was, offered little more than a live rendition of the existing score. Moreover, placing an orchestra in front of a mainstream film has the disconcerting effect of competing with, rather than complementing the screened images.

The ADF / La Haine project encountered many of the same problems but gave a greater result through a better realisation of the film’s context. As Aniruddha Das of ADF put it, \'. . . it wasn’t meant to be a new score or a straight performance but somewhere in between.\'

One of the crucial scenes in La Haine comes when a DJ blasts his unlikely mix of Piaf and KRS1 over the Banlieu, providing both a sense of alienation and belonging indicative of many immigrant cultures. ADF’s absorption of the onscreen DJ into their performance is not only musically interesting but a reminder that filling the \'spaces\' left by the mainstream is what gives many subcultures their impetus in forming new identities. This \'inbetween-ness\' is part of dance culture, where clubs use visuals as an added dimension, raising the question as to where this kind of interactive performance should take place. As a woman sitting by me said: \'Why do we have to sit down, why can’t we dance?\'

First published in Eye no. 40 vol. 10, 2001

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