One of the first events I ever covered for Run Riot was the Sound and Silents part of the Birds' Eye View Film Festival a few years ago, where Bishi performed an original score to Oscar Wilde's Salome. I was utterly inspired; by a genre of film I'd never really given much attention to, by the skill of the musicians who brought to life these ancient films with contemporary scores and by the fact that all this was a celebration of women and their often under-represented role in the film industry.So when I found out that one of my favourite musicians, Imogen Heap, had created a score for the cult surrealist film 'The Seashell and the Clergyman', I was beyond excited. As BEV director Rachel Millward said in her opening night, sometimes she gets to see her dreams come true and be realised on stage at events like this- Imogen Heap creating an entirely choral score and performing it with the Holst singers choir was one of those moments.
Firstly though I should mention the other female musicians on the bill, as they were all fantastic. I went along with blogger friend of mine Fiona, who happens to live with Micachu,the experimental genius who created a score for Lotte Reiniger's 1955 silhouette film 'Hansel and Gretel'. The scratchy, jolting sounds which I later found out had been created entirely using cassette tapes, suited the stark silhouette animation down to the ground, ranging from upbeat staccato sounds whilst the children are playing to extremely sinister eeriness to accompany the witch.
Maya Deren's 1943 'Meshes of the Afternoon' was scored by multi-instrumentalistSeaming, who used her incredible vocal range to accompany the final seconds of the films' haunting conclusion.
1913 film 'Suspense' was accompanied by a score from Tara Busch- I always like to come away from events having discovered an artist whose entire back catalogue of work I now feel the need to look up; Tara has had me on itunes all day.
And finally came Imogen Heap's performance, alongside the stunning Holst singers. Germaine Dulac's film 'The Seashell and the Clergyman' is arguably the first surreal film ever made, and though the writer protested that Dulac had been too narrative with the composition, its still pretty darn surreal.I was as amazed, as I always am, by the sheer range of sounds an acapella choir can create with just their voices, and occassionally their hands as instruments.Its very hard to describe how sublime the combination of such a haunting film and an equally transporting score can be, particularly when you're experiencing it being performed live. At moments I found myself accidentally watching Imogen and the singers rather than the film itself, but there were also times when I suddenly realised how completely immersed I'd become in the pciture that I'd forgotten to even dissassociate the sound from what was on the screen, the two went so well together.
The evening completely confirmed the BEV film festival 'sound and silents' as one of the highlights of my cultural calendar, and I strongly urge you to go along to it in 2012. I can't wait to see what pairings they come up with for the lost visual talent of the past and the musical talent of the future.Speaking of the future, you can take part in Imogen's new, crowdsourced project here now.