Recently we read a piece that investigated the importance of music to artists in the creative process. The interviewer visited several artists in their hallowed studio spaces and found that without exception, music was played while sculptors sculpted, painters painted and proponents of mixed media welded things to objects they’d salvaged from derelict cinemas.
Whilst some preferred the emotive classical strains of Mascagni, others embraced pop, jazz, country – genres were in fact a secondary consideration – the imperative and recurring requirement was that it transported the artist to a place where they felt compelled to create. One confessed to having listened to nothing other than the Scissor Sisters album solidly for 8 months, reaching a point of saturation so thorough that the songs became something other than music. It became a sanctuary of sound, a trance like inducing white noise where creativity flourished.
This interconnection of music and art is not lost on Lippy Kid aka Paul Scott, albeit his fascination is music working in combination with an art form in order to produce a whole that exceeds the sum of its parts. That art form is cinema, and his obsession is film scores, or rather the emotions created by dexterously matched image and sound.
Lippy Kid reverses our introductory passage by creating music inspired by mental imagery – the joy in listening to his compositions comes from being able to share his vision. To that end, ‘One Day in Kyoto’ acts as our tour guide to the bustling biosphere of 23rd Century Japan, the Essoldo Remix of ‘English Rain’ by Tribe of Juan cossets sand dusted dance floors beneath an aquamarine sky, while Néron Minimal 3 (Mnemosyne) lifts us through a steely grey veil to a moving reunion with our automaton ancestors.
We tracked him down to a large, airy repository. The walls were lined with music, not with accouterments of packaging or promotion, but with the ripples of rhythm. In between filtering swathes of synth, we asked him to take part in our ‘Write What You Like Feature’. Futuristic as ever, he’d already written his article. Here’s Lippy Kid’s submission:
I love music, and I love great film, but probably most of all – I love great music when combined with great film. I have to blame my Dad for this. His way of trying to keep me away from the “wrong sort” on the streets growing up in Manchester was to get me to help him show films at the local cinema. I’ve had a love of music from an early age, but I’m certain it was those years helping in the cinema where my love of music combined with film gelled. Yes you could have a great film, but a great soundtrack will take it to another level.
When I think back to those times, sat in the projectionist room, watching the films through the small port holes, I often realise that half the time it wasn’t so much the images that were lodging in my brain, but those fantastic musical moments. For me, it was the music that was creating the real emotion.
I recently re-watched “Once Upon a Time In The West” for the umpteenth time. A masterclass in film making we’d all agree, but unquestionably, it’s the pinpoint perfection of Ennio Morricone’s haunting and beautiful soundtrack that amplifies the emotion to that point the hairs stand up on my neck. I’d say the same is true for so many of films I remain devoted to today.
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner combined with the Vangelis soundtrack. Where would electronica be without the combined force that their film and music created. I’ve often joked that anyone who doesn’t appreciate the artistic quality of Blade Runner couldn’t possibly ever get me! Actually, having written that, I’m not sure that’s actually a joke.
Q. My favourite James Bond film of all time? A. ‘You Only Live Twice’ – Why? Apart from the cinematic majesty of it all, John Barry’s fantastic soundtrack makes the whole thing mesmerising. Picture the capsule sequence with anything other than that superb building hypnotic orchestral loop. It could never be more effective.
I love music to tell a story. I don’t believe that you have to have lyrics to do so, and I think this is what the great directors working with great soundtrack composers manage to perfection. Their images and music working together in harmony, many times without dialogue. In fact often my favourite moments in films are where there is no dialogue at all, the images almost acting as a backdrop to astonishing sequences of music. Anyone who’s seen ‘Inception’ and can recall the latter part of the film will recall how Chris Nolan and Hans Zimmer achieve this perfectly.
We’re fortunate that we still have a number of directors working out there today who still see great music as a vital component. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of my favourite recent films happen to also have fantastic soundtracks. Kevin Shields – ‘Lost In Translation’, Yann Tiersen – ‘Amelie’, Cliff Martinez – ‘Drive’ – I could go on. In fact I find it hard to write about Duncan Jones ‘Moon’ with Clint Mansell’s soundtrack without getting a lump in my throat. The soundtrack audibly capturing the beauty, brutality and love and longing of the fantastic minimalist film making.
So why the nostalgic reminiscing over music and film?
Well, as we roll through 2013, a music blogger recently wrote of my ‘Celluloid’ album – “echoing the sounds of modern cities in the way an ultra-slick metro train might hurtle down the neon tunnels of a Blade Runner-era Japan” !!! The blogger may not have realised it, but that comment meant the world to me.
Music combined with film. My Dad would have been proud.