Tuesday, November 6, 2007
The Valerie Project...
Hold onto your shrooms and brace yourself for some Psychedelic, experimental, gothic-folk.
Yes, gone are the days of nu-rave & indie pop (Fuck off Klaxons and Kate Nash already!)
There's a new player in town and it will suck you into it's fairytale-esque / Brothers Grimm sound.
May I present to you, The Valerie Project. An idea so terrifically esoteric, it's an absolute joy that it was conceived in the 21st century.
What is The Valerie Project I hear you yell.
Settle down for a history lesson & I shall fill you in.
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders was a novel written in 1935 by surrealist Czech writer Vítězslav Nezval.
Vítězslav is still regarded as one of the most prolific Czech writers to this day (even after his death in 1958).
Within the novel, Nezval explored oblique gothic themes and settings (think F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu for example).
By Nezval's own admission, the depth of the tale is not in story itself, but in the dark evocations caused by the mise en scene. It is a tale of folklore, mystery and allegory that unfolds as much in the mind as on the page.
In 1970, the novel was made into a feature film by Czech director Jaromil Jireš.
Jaromil didn't walk down the dangerous path of changing many of the novel's themes when he directed the film.
If there was ever a time to use a quote, this is it:
"Director Jaromil Jires was unerringly faithful to Nezval's myopic approach, lingering on expressions, oblique gestures, the subtle nuances of actor performance and the rich, complex set design of Ester Krumbachova. Lubos Fiser's original score is so perfectly woven throughout the action it becomes the atmosphere within which Jires' actors exist. While a 35mm transfer of the film still eludes the DVD market, one can bask in the splendor of Fiser's (and composer Jan Klusak's electronic contributions) masterwork via the newly re-issued soundtrack on Finders Keepers/ B-Music."
This now takes us to The Project...
The Project Series started with a simple concept; that of recontextualising the filmic meaning and impact of a particular work through the substitution of a newly composed soundtrack. The new soundtrack is meant to be performed live to a sound film, with the original soundtrack turned off or the original music removed. This element is unique in that most live film soundtracks are perfromed to silent era films.
The genesis of the project came more out of a complete infatuation with Jaromil Jires' 1970 dream poem than from any intellectual conceit. The film's relevence to a new generation of folk musicians made it an obvious choice also.
The talented women & men who created this brilliant idea:
Jim Ayre (Fern Knight / Rake) on Percusssion.
Tara Burke (fursaxa) on Vox.
Charles Cohenon Electronics.
Helena Espvall-Santoleri (espers) on Cello & Vox.
Mary Lattimore on Concert Harp.
Brooke Sietinsons (espers) on Acoustic Guitar, Omnichord, Jew's Harp, Autoharp & Space Echo.
Jesse Sparhawk: (Fern Knight / Jesse Sparhawk) Electric Bass.
Greg Weeks (espers / Greg Weeks): Electric Guitar, Rhodes, Recorder, Arp Odyssey, Univox, Mini-Korg & Metallaphon
Jessica Weekson Flute & Rhodes.
Margaret Wienk (Fern Knight) on Cello, Vox & Harmonium.
The incredible instrumental-compostion has 30 tracks on it.
Each one more beautiful than the last.
The myspace profile where you can listen to some of the tracks is here...
The 4 following MP3s are available for download.
They are taken from the very first performance of the Valerie Project at the International House, Philly, PA on Sept 18, 2006.
Intro - Right-click me...
Fire Fountian - Right-click me...
Grandmother's Theme - Right-click me...
The Feast - Right-click me...