Steve Elkins’ thoughtful, fascinating film about experimental music and musicians has been making the festival rounds for the past few years, and is finally available to screen on demand.  It’s exactly what our site is about, and is highly recommended to all of our readers.

One need not be familiar with our site, or even with experimental music, to be familiar with one of the names: last year, John Luther Adams won both a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy for Becoming Ocean.  In a coup of sorts, this film captures the composer as he’s becoming inspired to create that very work.  It’s a perfect starting point for the film, because Adams’ music, although intensely creative, is still accessible to mainstream audiences.  Meanwhile, Misa Masaoka interacts with the natural world while Jon Rose and Bob Ostertag explore the porous line between music and politics.  Their subject matter could not be more timely.

AuroraAdams admits that when he first visited Alaska, he felt that he was “running away … from the centers of music,” but that he soon realized he was “running to a different center to a different music.”  By this admission, he underlines the connection between location and inspiration.  As the Aurora Borealis sparkles overhead, one imagines the music of the spheres, but Adams finds silence to be his greatest inspiration.  His patient music reflects the “reservoirs of silence” that he wishes to preserve in Alaska and elsewhere; he believes “music (can) matter as much as politics.”

While Adams seeks to translate nature to music, Misa Masaoka uses nature as instrument, seeking to reflect its array of voices.  The “tactile nature of wood and string” leads her to samples of heartbeats, EKG machines, and other means of transmitting electrical impulses to music.  She starts with humans, then moves to plants and cockroaches.  She allows the latter to crawl across her naked body, and the former to have a “solo”.  Is this “natural” music?  In one sense, not at all, in another, absolutely.

Crazy bike!“The violin is a pain,” admits Jon Rose, as he breaks one in a doorway.  Then he blows one up.  Then he begins to make monstrous, mutated string instruments.  His disregard for convention leads him to surprising places.  Watching him ride laps on a bicycle-powered violin brings back memories of childlike glee, pasting the head of one model on another.  Rose continues far past where most people stop, ever restless, ever curious.  Soon he has a bicycle orchestra.  The expression “everything but the kitchen sink” does not apply: he uses the kitchen sink too!  His friend asks, “Why, Jon?” ~ he calls his music “unpopular music,” challenging definitions of quality based on popularity.  “I love to play for an audience of nobody,” he admits, but he doesn’t.  “You can’t play barbed wire,” he says; and then he does.  His initial motivation is to investigate sonic properties, but as he gets to know the fences he uses, he begins to ask why they are used; and at this point, his music becomes interactive.  The fence – both literal presence and metaphor – becomes an opportunity for sonic and social transformation.

Rose teams up with Ostertag to add accelerometers to soccer balls and kayak paddles, while Ostertag teams up with stop-motion filmmaker Pierre Hebert to create audio-visual experiments.  But Ostertag’s time in El Salvador colors his later experiments.  He records a boy burying his father: the shovel, the tears, the fly.  It’s field recording as political protest: the exposure of truth through sound.  He travels to California to translate a gay rights riot to a score, enlisting the aid of the Kronos Quartet, whose sounds occupy the frames of the film.  In light of the recent Supreme Court decision, this segment possesses particular weight: the resonance of the title.

The editing of the film is wise throughout: a swiftly-moving blend of film stock, nature in motion, live interview, split screen, animation and more.  The interviews (responses only; no questions) are intercut until the viewer begins to see them as interconnected: pieces of a tapestry with a simple message: that because music is interwoven with everything from nature to humanity to politics, music has the ability to reflect and change as well as to entertain.  Even without visuals, the audio works as sound collage.  The Reach of Resonance deserves the prizes it’s received to date, as well as those it is likely to receive from this point on; the general public has just received a gift.  (Richard Allen, 2015)

The original article can be read here.

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The Reach Of Resonance will be screening Friday, July 19th 2015 at Trafačka in Nitra, Slovakia, as part of their “Night Full of Music” festival, introduced by Július Fujak who appeared in the first version of the film playing his own hair with an amplified violin bow.

More info here: http://www.trafacka.sk
And here: https://www.facebook.com/nochudbynitra/timeline

Excerpts from “The Reach Of Resonance” will be screening at the International Museum and Library of Music in Bologna, Italy from May 27th through June 2nd, 2015.

http://www.museomusicabologna.it

Excerpts from “The Reach Of Resonance” are screening at the Alexander Ochs Gallerie in Berlin from May 7th – 22nd.  The exhibition will feature the World Premiere of The Data Violin Robot played live by data from Wall Street traders – accompanied by a String Quintet playing an intermittent arrangement of Pennies From Heaven.  The amazing Ben Patterson, who traveled to Slovakia to make marmalade out of violin cases in the original cut of “The Reach Of Resonance,” will be opening the exhibition (except for Yoko, he is the last Fluxus artist still going!).  Throughout the exhibition, Hans W. Koch will display his Leichte Muse, an apparatus for determining the relative weight of music(s). (It should be noted that the relative distances of music were determined by Dr. Johannes Rosenberg and his double piston, triple neck, wheeling violin of 1985.)  The exhibition will travel to the International Museum of Music in Bolgna, Italy later this month. This may be Jon Rose’s last exhibition of the Rosenbergs in Europe. More info:  http://www.alexanderochs-private.com

Tonight deleted scenes from “The Reach Of Resonance” will be screening at a 19th century violin-maker’s shop in Prague, Violin Atelier Vávra, located at Lublaňská 65, Prague 2 (www.housle-vavra.cz). Stay tuned over the next few months for more screenings in Europe, Taiwan, Australia, and New York.

Throughout 2015, excerpts from “The Reach Of Resonance” will be touring Italy, Berlin, Cologne, Budapest, Vienna, Brno, Tasmania, Prague, Gent, Taipei, and New York as part of exhibitions about the perverse legacy of the notorious Rosenbergs curated by Jon Rose. Stay tuned for more details. For more info on the Rosenbergs: https://vimeo.com/33099085

This Saturday, October 4th, director Steve Elkins will be giving a presentation on his film “The Reach Of Resonance” and his new forthcoming film (currently untitled) at the Adventure Film Festival in Boulder, Colorado. He’ll discuss his experiences in extreme and remote environments around the globe documenting the incredible lengths people travel to approach the unknown, to visualize (or make audible) the invisible, to cultivate our inner image of what the world is actually like, which we then carry with us into the world to inevitably change it. Hope to see you there. http://www.adventurefilm.org/

On August 29th, “The Reach Of Resonance” will make its Russian premiere in the small Siberian city of Kansk, 4500 km from Moscow in an area full of “wonderful and brave Siberian people,” pelmeni, cedar nuts, and even buses reminiscent to the old school buses of a long lost Soviet Union, a place full magic. Kansk was found on the Internet by chance and selected because Kansk in Russian is pronounced the same as Cannes. It grew as a joke….Siberia having it’s own ‘Festival de Cannes,’ that now has an international jury. Director Steve Elkins will be introducing the film to the audience via Skype, and Secret Chiefs 3 will be performing (featuring Trey Spruance of Mr. Bungle and Faith No More). More screenings in Russia will be announced soon.  http://www.festival-cannes.ru/ru/

394265_10151175932731385_411521830_nThis August, “The Reach Of Resonance” will be screening in Russia at the Kansk International Video Festival (Siberia). The program includes screenings and concerts, exhibitions and architecture installations, poetry slams and street art events. More info to come soon!

 

Congratulations to John Luther Adams, one of the four featured artists in “The Reach Of Resonance”, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music yesterday, for his piece “Become Ocean.”  A sample of “Become Ocean” can be heard here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGIEvUOf-JU

Director Steve Elkins (left) and John Luther Adams (right) photographed in Alaska by David G. Marks in 2009, during production of "The Reach Of Resonance."

Director Steve Elkins (left) and John Luther Adams (right) photographed in Alaska by David G. Marks in 2009, during production of “The Reach Of Resonance.”