Friday 9 March
Having become something of the MMP’s go-to guy for any live soundtracking of film (four now, in total), each event, I can personally vouch, has been a singular, unique joy. The aural and visual ambience is almost predefined by the event itself. Yet, the interaction between these two stimuli, and its cumulative intoxication of the viewer / listener’s synapses, always feels somehow special.
Contextually, then, it should mean a lot when I say A Hawk And A Hacksaw’s imaginative foray into this field, is without doubt, one of the finest things I’ve ever witnessed. Live soundtrack, gig, film. All of the above. As a spectacle, it was obviously heavily dependent on Sergei Paradjanov’s underlying film and the excellent cinematography of Viktor Bestayev and Yuri Ilyenko. It is truly unsettling, surreal by turns, humorous at others, but always beautifully dreamlike. Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors tracks the tragic love story of Ivanko and Marichka, incorporating a range of symbolic flourishes along the way, and eventually the consequences of their romance.
What was particularly notable here was the grandness and perfection of the conceptual fit. A Hawk And A Hacksaw’s music is born from Eastern European roots, the folk of its soil and land. Their artistic intent and musical capability were the ideal match to the challenge of an entire re-imagining of a USSR film’s soundtrack. And in doing so, as the programme notes point out, the aim was not to accompany a silent film but interact with dialogue. In practice, this meant some of the script being ghostly subtitle poems beneath sometimes sinister, sometimes jaunty accordion and violin, the band picking and choosing which bits were deemed most relevant to be heard.
Some may take umbrage at this intervention to a 1964 classic, at an artistic level. But when moments of tenderness, such as the burial of Marichka and the arrival of a deer, were overcome by the swoop of strings, the coldest hearts must have melted. Barnes and Trost’s vision for the film was their own and, for me personally, it worked a treat; blending itself in and out, in tune with the visuals more than the words. They will be repeating this show at ATP over the weekend, I am going there and I am definitely going to this. Again. SMR