Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Report From The Bunker

I’ve given myself brain ache – word/sound overload – it’s as if Bill has set up camp inside my head and spent all day conducting tape recorder experiments – playback, loop, playback – causing a riot in there. So, it’s a good job Philip Jeck’s provided an ‘Ark For The Listener’ via the Touch label. You could hardly call his sounds ‘soothing’, unless you compared them to what I’ve been filling my ears with all day, such as Wolf Eyes’ ‘Rotting Remains’ which is an evil sound. It’s not that I’ve played noise all the time, but that Wolf Eyes became the culmination, the final crushing blow that blew my brains. Jeck’s sound manipulation is acting as a kind of balm for my brain, as long as I play it quietly. Loud, it opens up another avenue down which the innocent may wander, thinking they’ve found salvation but instead entered a world of nightmarish proportions, such is the eerie ambience of the work.

   The animals going in two-by-two is natural, but three just won’t do – no sir, unless it’s a ménage a trois, of course. I don’t think Noah would approve. A three-way love-in seems set to occur in Claude Chabrol’s ‘Les Biches’(1969), which I watched last week. Stunning Frederique (Stephane Audran) picks up Why (what a great name for a character), a pavement artist in Paris played by Jacqueline Sassard, and whisks her off to St Tropez. There she lives an upper class bohemian kind of life (two great performances by Henri Attal and Dominique Zardi as the crazy scroungers enjoying Frederique’s home and money). Enter architect Paul (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and things take a turn for the worse as far as Why is concerned. I’ll say no more about the story. Chabrol’s direction is as seductive as the subjects, drawing us into the world they inhabit as surely as Frederique leads Why. There are some exquisitely framed shots filmed by cinematographer Jean Rabier in glorious Eastmancolor which, along with a great script, makes this a superb piece of work.
   Before I go and lie down in a darkened room I must tell you how I ended up in The Modern World for a while earlier this week. There was only one sunlit set of tables in the Brunswick shopping precinct so I had to buy a coffee in Starbucks. Whilst queuing I looked around and thought to myself ‘So this is The Modern World’ – there were two people reading novels, one on a laptop, of course, because someone somewhere no matter the situation must be online – all sipping coffee from gallon-sized mugs. These people were at home in Starbucks. I was not. I hate coffee served in massive mugs, it’s just not on. When I ordered mine she showed me the mug, waving it as a kind of symbol of pride, perhaps, but I couldn’t help asking if they only served coffee by the gallon. She picked up a smaller mug. Oh, that’ll do.
   Once outside two Frenchmen also took a table, making me feel a little better – why? – I don’t know, but simply the sound of their language made me imagine that I could close my eyes and be in Paris.
   I looked back through the window of the cafe at the Modern people...wondering why I wasn’t one and never would age? No. My dislike for multinational domination of the cafe and the types of people who willingly submit themselves to the homogenised lifestyle of mugs of coffee and making themselves cosy in the corporate womb? Probably...

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