The Pacific Film Archive’s “Sounding Off” Series Continues…

September 8, 2011

It was an honor to have “The Reach Of Resonance” selected as the opening film of the Pacific Film Archive’s “Sounding Off” series at UC Berkeley last Saturday, with featured artist Bob Ostertag, RoR director Steve Elkins, and producer David Marks in attendance for Q&A.

The series continues throughout the month with fascinating portraits of unusual music, including Emma Franz’s film on Korean Shamanic ritual drummer Kim Seok-Chul (“Intangible Asset #82”), Peter Esmonde’s film about madcap Seattle-based inventor Trimpin (“The Sound Of Invention”), Cédric Dupire and Gaspard Kuentz’s film on Tokyo’s new music scene, which includes a noise guitarist who performs in caverns and a cellist who inflicts industrial abuse on his instrument with a metal grinder (“We Don’t Care About Music Anyway”), and Pedro Costa’s new film about French chanteuse Jeanne Balibar, (“Ne change rien”).

According to Webster’s, music “is the art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity.” Or not. As you’ll see from these melodious inquiries into contemporary musical practice, music can be more about a relationship to the world than the ordering of tones or sounds. As expressed in these five films, there even seems to be a tendency to disrupt those very things in opposition to musical traditions that forgo the surrounding culture. Whether it’s Trimpin’s quest to devise new sound-producing instruments, or koto player Miya Masaoka forging a sonic kinship with insect life, whether it’s violin virtuoso Jon Rose playing barbed-wire fences strung across Australia’s outback, or shaman Kim Seok-Chul’s ecstatic ritual drumming, the many musicians in Sounding Off pursue unusual musical manifestations that are as much responses to political circumstance or the natural landscape as to the unity of composition. And though these musicians might relish noisy intervention or unexpected discord, in their hands it’s still a sound enterprise.

(“Reach Of Resonance” director Steve Elkins at UC Berkeley’s Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, September 3, 2011)

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