65daysofstatic Score Silent Running: Live

5/5

Douglas Trumball’s 1972 sci-fi classic Silent Running is a bleak look at a future devoid of nature and wildlife, where the last remaining specimens are preserved in huge, greenhouse-like geodesic domes attached to a fleet of space-freighters just outside the orbit of Saturn. A film that has received a relatively cult status due to its inherently green message (which has never been as efficacious as now), it seems to have aged well, outstripping many of its counterparts in what was a golden period for cinema.

The film follows a lone botanist and ecologist Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) aboard one of the freighters, whose job it is to protect the natural habitats before their eventual reforestation on earth. When orders are given to destroy the domes, Lowell turns renegade, deciding instead to do everything he can to save them.

The original score from bassoonist and P.D.Q Bach creator Peter Schickele features performances from folk singer-songwriter Joan Baez. However a new project from Sheffield-based instrumental post-rock band 65daysofstatic sees an enlightening new live score produced for the Glasgow Music Film Festival.

The dimly-lit cavernous setting of The Arches complete with pipes and cabling provides a suitable backdrop for the performance, helping the audience get completely immersed in the spectacle.

Whilst the original seemed to contain a somewhat free spirited sentiment due to its orchestral folk prominence, hence retaining a powerful message due to its juxtaposition against the overwhelming emptiness of space, 65days have opted for an epic approach of industrial synths, drum samples, guitars and keyboards to create a captivating atmosphere that blends nicely with lead actor Bruce Dern’s role.

Commissioned by the GMFF as their first film score, 65days do brilliantly to retain the continuity of the film; enhancing the dramatic narrative and emotional impact of the scenes rather than simply having a 90-minute jam. Their precision and timing is so astute that the whole piece comes together like a carefully calculated system, synchronizing with the plot in a scarring mechanical fashion.

Known for their experimental attitude toward music incorporating all manner of blips and glitches, 65days appears perfect for the science-fiction genre. It allows them to explore the various themes of the film whilst giving it a futuristic edge.

The end result is a far cry from Trumball’s original, which emphasized the loneliness of space and the deterioration of mankind. However, its reinterpretation is one that is both innovative and highly entertaining, creating a prodigious eruption of sound which fits perfectly with the film’s beatific visuals. Let’s just hope this project isn’t their last.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Mar 1st 2011.

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