There's no Silent Running from 65daysofstatic

A dimly lit archway with exposed pipes, cables and dramatic string soundtrack acted as the ideal setting for tonight's show. From its very beginnings I could easily have been within  the concentric hub of a spacecraft (stereotypical Hollywood style of course), with ten-fold the drama of NASA.

Tonight saw the fusion of  Douglas Trumbull's 70's sci-fi classic Silent Running with an original 90-minute score composed and then performed live by Sheffield instrumental four-piece 65daysofstatic. The band are a powerful force, layering intense furious sound where industrial synth noises meet gritty bass, pounding rhythm, post-rock guitar and attacking drum samples, together melting into sublime soundscapes.

Silent Running is set in a future where all plant-life has become extinct on Earth. Any specimens which have been preserved now grow in vast geosidic greenhouses attached to space freighters just outside the orbit of Saturn. The lead is played by  Bruce Dern, a botanist that nurtures this plant life for their eventual return and reforestation of the planet.

Although quirkily dated on the eye, I struggled to be absorbed by this film where poignancy supersedes action and drama. The message of the film is clear though, for me, its delivery is completely ludicrous. Without an alien in sight and manic dialogue between one man and three robots I'd say this was teetering on the edges of dull.

So what a relief that audio dominated visual. Any risk of apocalypse was saved by an immense soundtrack, a live barricade of sound generated by the band, who curtained the screen in two halves. With an array of electronic equipment encompassing the periphery, they could be manning our very own intergalactic mission.

The opening scene began timid until a sudden roaring descent where the gargantuan stacks of speakers exhaled right into the third row. A band known for the sheer depth of their noise, they did not disappoint.

With sound effects in the original provided by analog synths, the concept of space allowed for all sorts of  bleeps and glitches to create a potent sound not dissimilar to 2010 album We Were Exploding Anyway.

Conveying the emotion of the film with precision, the complexity and intellect of this soundtrack's craft is evident. Synchronisation is almost mechanical in nature, strategically timed with meticulous placing of each sound. Co-incision occurs with the most minor events or the impact of onscreen combustion, the overall result of sound erupting, breathing and mourning in embrace with the visual.

The soundtrack has some beautifully melodic themes which  reoccur later in the film with harsher electronics remix style. Their vicious reprise generates enough vibrations to make your face move and your teeth tremble.

Maybe it was the superlative magnificence of 65daysofstatic which dimmed the sci-fi classic tonight,  but this was certainly an audio assault that would be wasted on two one-off shows. It'll be interesting to see if repeat performances occur or whether this is an exclusive gem in the crown of the Glasgow Film Festival.

Perhaps they'll get Daft Punk to soundtrack Tron live next year...
 

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