18
Jul 00

IMAGINARY MUSIC FOR IMAGINARY FILMS

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 315 views

IMAGINARY MUSIC FOR IMAGINARY FILMS

I have this acquaintance – I believe Tom may be allowing him some space round here soon – who hates films with purportedly the same ire that I Hate Music (name of the site, and yet again all of it. Christ you kids don’t let that one rest). Me, I’m more ambivalent about celluloid. Obviously I don’t like musicals (I Hate Music-als you see), and there was a period in the mid-eighties where films seemed to merely exist to spit out half-arsed soundtrack albums and perpetuate the careers of the Psychedelic Furs and Simple Minds. The eighties gave us care in the community and the soundtrack revival as forms of rehabilitation. I prefer the former. But on the whole I really do not mind a decent piece of narrative cinema.

This does not mean that films have not spawned one of the stupidest ideas ever conceived in the pop world. As far as I understand it, the process of making a film goes something like this. Someone has an idea for a story. Said story gets written in the form of a screenplay. Screenplay is then taken up by the director who casts and films it. Editor comes in, chops it about into a serviceable shape and then – oh yeah – they might put some music on it. That last stage I don’t like so much, however it is still preferable to the way Barry Adamson, Andrew Wetherall or David Holmes make films. You see these guys believe that somehow we will create a purer artform if we start with the – soundtrack.

David Holmes’ Bow Down To The Exit Sign is described as a soundtrack to an imaginary film. As far as I can work it out, all films are imaginary (well – okay – I’ll give you documentaries but I am in a charitable mood today. I didn’t even kick the busker on the Tube.) What he actually means is that the film will never be made, because there is no story, no plot and no point to the whole exercise. Instead its an excuse to release a few scratchy dance tunes that no-one can dance to. If you take real soundtrack albums, they are often an excuse to play the same tune over and over again at different speeds and using different instruments. All in all a thoroughly worthless idea, but preferable I suppose to an album full of different, equally poor tunes like Adamson’s Oedipus Schmoedipus.

Can you imagine say – Steven Speilberg – coming across Haunted Dancehall by The Sabres Of Paradise, taking one listen and thinking “I can see that film in my mind, and must make it now”. I can imagine this, and said film would be eighty minutes filming the anal passage of a heffer as it wanders the highways and byways of the nastier regions of South London. No the truth of the imaginary soundtrack is that is merely another way of saying “concept album”. Bow Down to The Exit Sign is the 2000 equivalent of Tales Of The Topographic Ocean. Expect to see him perform his next album live at ice skating rinks with Torvill and Dean playing a pimp and a hooker.

You see, in a movie the music is supposed to serve the film. That’s too restrictive for these sonic pioneers. Hopefully one day they will also realise that recording the music is too restrictive, and they keep their damn imaginary soundtracks where they belong – in their imaginations.

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