Features — 23 September 2014
It’s no big secret; I love music.
I personally have a huge thirst for all kinds of music. Typically I enjoy the type of stuff that sits just outside the definitions of “average.” Angular, lilting, chaotic, thoughtful, bombastic, staid music. Nothing that sits too center of the road; mostly stuff that manifests a rabid passion for what’s going on. Usually, that passion shows itself in extremes, from the loud to the soft. Very broad, I know, but either end of the spectrum can be very intense in their own right and that dichotomy intrigues me. Nobody can tell me that the quietest moments of any Godspeed You! Black Emperor song is any less intense than the soul crushing barrage of sound that Neurosis can make. They’re cut from the same cloth. They both make you feel something. Something. In the end, the comfort and passion of music, for me, is the quest to feel feelings. To understand yourself through the mirror of the songs that you gravitate towards.
In the same regard, I feel movies. Movies are like songs in that scenes and tones are used to construct stories that make you feel something. The movies that resonate with you the most say a lot about the person that you are. Some people enjoy Adam Sandler movies. Others enjoy David Lynch movies. I make no judgement on either side of the fence here, but I am quite sure that, upon reading this, every single person had a thought about each of these sub-sects of movie viewers. See what I mean? It says a lot.
I know that this isn’t a newly trodden path. My question is this: is there an area where music and movies intersect in a perfect angle where in the greatest parts of each component join to create an ultimate feeling? It seems that there is a dividing line. For example, Wes Anderson has said that he considers the soundtracks to his movies as extra characters that he uses to tell a story. Anyone who loves Wes Anderson movies, in part, owes some of that love to the affectation associated with that soundtrack. Although well matched, they still seem somewhat disjointed; that the soundtrack can stand alone and still be very enjoyable, as can the movie. Conversely, a few years ago, I saw Johann Johansonn play at Saint Mary’s Church in West Philadelphia. He performed his album FORDLANDIA in its entirety, accompanied with a projection piece detailing the rise and fall of the actual Fordlandia project through silent, archival film. It was a moving performance, but again, the visual component and the aural component could each stand on their own.
Is there a place where the two can exist, but only with each other’s company? What would it look like? What would it sound like? Most importantly, what would it feel like?
I think that the closest that I’ve personally come to experiencing this glorious union was when PhilaMOCA screened The Shining backwards and forwards at the same time with the Psychic Teens adding the live score. As anyone who was there can attest, it was disorienting and confusing. The sound swirled into dialogue. The colors swirled together. Light and darkness were one. And in all the chaos, there was Scatman Caruthers. Clear as day, right in the middle of it all. It was awe-inspiring. Glorious. Perfect. Neither component of the night could stand on its own, but together, it was something that can never be mimicked. It was visceral. It was real. I felt it.