een kerkdienst voor de filmkunst*

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Orwa Nyrabia, artistic director of IDFA, explains the how and why

Dziga Vertov’s Anniversary of the Revolution (1918) was long lost, but thanks to Nikolai Izvolov, IDFA could screen a glorious full version of this epic film – perhaps the first documentary film in world history. Bass Sambeek (Cinesonic) made it happen with a live soundtrack, provided by Kate NV – electronics, Anna Azernikova – soprano, Victoria Dmitrieva – piano, Anastasia Kozlova – violin, Varvara Tishina – soprano, Rodolfo Ravissant – accordeon and the Russian Chamber Choir, conducted by Anna Azernikova.

*”Een kerkdienst voor de filmkunst”(“A church service for the art of cinema”), my colleague SK dubbed this wonderful, wonderful night.

 

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The Ex

the ex tumult 1983

The Ex, Tumult, 1983

Some bands are beyond the usual spectrum. The Ex I consider to be one of these unique bands, the expression ‘hors categorie’ was made up for them. They defy any categorisation (that lazy habit of the music industry) and keep on moving towards unknown territory. And it isn’t nostalgia working here, please no. Without a doubt, there is no band which I saw so many times, under such totally different circumstances like The Ex. The first LP I bought was Hands Up! You’re Free! from 1988, which still sounds very good. UK radio legend John Peel knew where to look for genuine sounds.

Later on, I fell in love with the double lp Joggers and Smoggers (1989), which is a podcast avant la lettre, an audio summer walk through Amsterdam, at the end of the eighties. With amazing sound attacks, ranging from inspired poet Dorpsoudste de Jong, via impro legends Ab Baars and Wolter Wierbos, to Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore, all adding to the unique atmosphere of that album.

In 1991 they released the gorgeous album Scrabbling at the lock, with the late NYC celloplayer Tom Cora in an outstanding performance. Hidegen fujnak a szelek from that album even became somewhat of a dancefloor hit – well, at least in the seedy alternative places I used to dance my gothic dance back in the day.

The very same year (to be precise: june 29th, 1991) The Ex lured me into the old Bimhuis (at Oude Schans), for the very first time actually. That night I was all nerves, travelling all the way from Nuenen, Brabant to attend the first collaboration The Ex did with improv jazz musicians like Han Bennink, Ab Baars and Wolter Wierbos. The VHS of this wonderful night captures the spirit of that night quite nice. It is no exaggeration to put it like this: thanks to The Ex I discovered both The Bimhuis and the splendor of improv music.

There are many more vivid memories: The Ex performing with contemporary dance maestro Wim Vandekeybus’ dance troupe in Nijmegen’s classy De Vereeniging. The Ex curating a spectacular night in the old WORM (in Delfshaven, before they moved to innacity Rotterdam), with Ethiopian giants like saxophoneplayer Getatchew Mekurya and singer Mohammed ‘Jimmy’ Mohammed. The Ex performing with Alex D’Electrique in a gigantic former wharf. The Ex with Mekurya & Guests in The Melkweg. Last year they again surprised me in OCCII with all new material, abstract and glorious, enriched with Congolese sounds.

Again, The Ex cherrypicked an excellent line up of kindred musical spirits for this sunday in Amsterdam. From 19:00 hrs on, a festival in the Paradiso. With a.o. King Ayisoba from Ghana, Han Bennink, Oscar Jan Hoogland, Gummbah, Brader Musiki & Kaja Draksler Octet. Around 70 artists in one night..

Main Hall: MC Tijdelijke Toon / DJ Meda
19:30 – Drumband Hallelujah Makkum feat. ZEA & Kosten Koper
20:00 – Vincenzo Castellana
20:30 – Kaja Draksler Octet
21:15 – Zewditu Yohannes, Endris Hassen & Misale Legesse
22:00 – Brader Musiki
22:45 – The Ex
00:00 – KING AYISOBA

Upstairs: MC / DJ Richard James Foster
20:00 – Anne-James Chaton & Andy Moor
20:40 – Katherina Bornefeld & George Hadow
20:55 – Lena Hessels
21:15 – Terrie Hessels & Ken Vandermark
21:45 – Gummbah & Leonard Bedaux Cinema
22:25 – Kristoffer Alberts & Han Bennink
23:40 – Massicot

Basement:
21:00 – Oscar Jan Hoogland / Practical Music
21:45 – Diego Armando DJ
22:15 – H 0 W R A H
23:00 – Diego Armando DJ
00:15 – Bazooka
01:00 – DJ Meda

Music for mallet instruments, voices and organ (Steve Reich, 1973)

Just came across this fantastic version of Steve Reich’s Music for mallet instruments, voices and organ (1973), by ensemble Alarm will Sound. I can vividly imagine this music to sound during the creation of a universe – or two.

Great interview (in Dutch, Groene Amsterdammer, 1985) by Frits van der Waa here.

St. James Infirmary by Koko the Clown (1933)

Gorgeous classic Betty Boop from 1933. Check out Koko the Clown (sung by Cab Calloway) stealing the show from 4.20 on – the beautiful way he dances! Fleischer’s animator Doc Crandall used Rotoscope (invented by Max Fleischer) to be able to transpose Calloway’s famous dance moves into animation. ‘An undisputed highlight of cartoon surrealism, matched by very few other cartoons’, says Dr. Grob’s Animation Review. Can’t stop watching Koko and his ghost version dancing.. His movements are simply gorgeous, the feet timing brilliant. Calloway’s rendition of this early jazz standard has a haunting quality of its own. Listen to his unique phrasing, the way it propels the meaning of the words. Chilled to the bone..

Folks, I’m goin’ down to St. James Infirmary
To see my baby there;
She’s stretched out on a long, white table
She’s so sweet, so cold, so fair

Let her go, let her go, God bless her
Wherever she may be
She will search this wide world over
But she’ll never find another sweet man like me

Now when I die, bury me in my straight-leg britches
Put on a box-back coat and a Stetson a-hat
Put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch chain
So you can let all the boys know I died standing fair

Folks, now that you have heard my story
Say, boy, hand me over another shot of that booze;
If anyone should ask you
Tell ‘em I’ve got those St. James Infirmary blues

Byrne interviews Byrne

In an attempt to bypass promotional interviews for the movie Stop Making Sense (1984), Byrne decided to interview himself. Besides being outrageously funny performing as several interviewer types, Byrne as interviewee excels as usual with some razorsharp observations like ‘music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head’. Hence the legendary big suit: to make his head smaller! I cheered out loud at home watching this, when Byrne states that ‘the better the singer’s voice, the harder it is to believe what they are saying’. The lovesong he sings to a lamp is ofcourse this gem, a personal favourite.

all anxieties tranquilized

network
Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976. Met: Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, William Holden, scenario: Paddy Chayefsky).

Arthur Jensen: You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it! Is that clear? You think you’ve merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU… WILL… ATONE! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that… perfect world… in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.

Howard Beale: Why me?

Arthur Jensen: Because you’re on television, dummy. Sixty million people watch you every night of the week, Monday through Friday.

Howard Beale: I have seen the face of God.

Arthur Jensen: You just might be right, Mr. Beale.