GoGo Penguin created and performed a new score for Godfrey Reggio's 1982 experimental film, Koyaanisqatsi. I loved the Qatsi trilogy when I first saw it, and I love GoGo Penguin now, so I was really excited. Hiro and I sat expectantly in the front row, just 15 feet from drummer, Rob Turner. Amazingly, the high expectations were met!
The music sounded like GoGo Penguin: catchy jazz rock. It was perhaps a bit more "cinematic", with long sections of sparse piano, droning bass, and cymbal/floor-tom rolls. But it was all beautiful.
I came away inspired to see if I might create a soundtrack to the Paraic McGlaughlin video I like so much, Arena. As I write this though, I'm remembering how both GoGo Penguin and Cornelius before that felt a little constrained by the video and the in-ear metronome. How could I make the musicians on stage not compete with the visuals? (Koyaanisqatsi is meant to be watched with full attention. Is it better to have the musicians not visible?) And how can the visuals inspire the performers to achieve something special in a live setting? Hrm...
Seeing Koyaanisqatsi again as an adult, I was even more impressed with the cinematography, and more affected by the movie's pessimism. The shots of military equipment and bomb explosions were more abrasive to me now, and made me question cinematography's role. Is it okay to make ugly things beautiful? The movie draws visual similarities between sausages slithering into their casings at a factory and the blur of travellers flowing through escalators. The time-lapse cinematography converts the freedom of travel into a soulless urban machine. Profound, but dark.
Notes for self
Rob Turner's "gears" - I like how Rob often started a groove with the kick, R hand on hi-hat, L hand on side-stick. Gear 2 was L hand on snare. Gear 3 was R hand moving around cymbals and toms.
Limitations of the PA - Is it possible to have a PA system sound good in a small venue? Even with the great speakers and a professional sound engineer, the direct sound from the drums didn't meld with the piano and guitar coming through the speakers. If I had been sitting 30' back, I bet it would have been different, but it makes me wonder if I should try to have per-instrument speakers on stage, so the sound is coming from the sources. At Echoplex recently it was a similar problem: the singer's voice was through the PA and it was shooting over us. It was all guitar amps. What if the singer had a line-array just in front of the mic?