Tag Archive for 'documentary'

Overheard on TV: Helvetica Documentary Soundtrack

A friend of mine recommended that I watch the 2007 documentary dedicated to the typeface/font Helvetica titled plainly enough Helvetica. When I saw it show up in the NetFlix streaming recommendations for me, I watched it.

Helvetica the typeface was designed in 1957 by the Swiss type foundry Haas to be a general-use typeface. It was an immediate success and adopted virtually everywhere since, and enjoys constant use to this day. This documentary by Gary Hustwit looks at the typeface and its success and shows how its existence impacted graphic design over the years. Hustwit also produced the amazing Wilco documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, the Robert Moog documentary Moog, and the Death Cab For Cutie tour film Drive Well, Sleep Carefully.

I found myself very engrossed in the film as I have been a type geek ever since my first Macintosh in the 80′s. The movie talks a bit about the reaction to standard typesetting practices in the 90′s during the “grunge” movement, which yielded a couple of my favorite magazines Emigre and Raygun which were the leading edge of that movement which I was a fan of which included the work Vaughan Oliver did with v.23/23 Envelope for 4AD records.

One of the things that hooked me right away was the soundtrack to the movie (of course!). It has a collection of really great Post Rock and related artists on it like El Ten Eleven (an impressive NINE songs!), Sam Prekop and The Chicago Underground Quartet. Here is the song listing from imdb.com:

“Thinking Loudly” -  El Ten Eleven
“Lorge” – El Ten Eleven
“Central Nervous Piston” – El Ten Eleven
“My Only Swerving” – El Ten Eleven
“Fanshawe” – El Ten Eleven

These songs are from El Ten Eleven’s 2005 self-titled release.

“Meow”-  Motohiro Nakashima
“Potala” – Motohiro Nakashima

These songs are from his 2004 release And I Went to Sleep.

“Helvetica 2″ -  Kim Hiorthoy
“Helvetica 9″ – Kim Hiorthoy

Kim Hiorthoy is, according to his Wikipedia article, a Norwegian electronic musician. He’s been recording since 2000 and has a number of releases out. These two tracks are obviously done specifically for this movie.

“Every Direction is North” -  El Ten Eleven
“Bye Annie, Bye Joe, Bye Michael, Bye Jake” incorrectly titled “Bye 2″ – El Ten Eleven
“Hot Cakes” – El Ten Eleven
“3+4″ – El Ten Eleven

These songs are from El Ten Eleven’s 2007 release Every Direction is North.

“Seqy Chords 3″ -Sam Prekop
“Seqy Solo” -Sam Prekop

These songs by Sam Prekop of The Sea and Cake appear to be written specifically for this release– or at least only appear here. I wonder if these songs are somehow related to the CD that came with his photography book?

“IPT2″ -  Battles

This song is from the Battles 2006 release on Warp called EP C/B EP.

“Tunnel Chrome” -  Chicago Underground Quartet

This track is from Rob Mazurek’s Chicago Underground Quartet project’s 2001 self-titled Thrill Jockey release.

“Magic Step” – Sam Prekop

This song is from Prekop’s 2005 release Who’s Your New Professor on Thrill Jockey.

“And Then Patterns” – Four Tet

This song is from the brilliant 2007 Four Tet release Everything Ecstatic

“Pelican Narrows” – Caribou

This track is from his 2005 Merge Records release The Milk of Human Kindness.

“Shine” – The Album Leaf

This track is taken from The Album Leaf’s 2006 release on SubPop Into the Blue Again.

This is a pretty great collection of bands– mostly ones that I really like and admire– and the two artists that I hadn’t heard of (Nakashima and Hiorthoy) I plan to check out. I’m not the first blogger to comment on the soundtrack, and one of them even made an iTunes mix of it. It would be great if they’d release this soundtrack– if only the ones that are specific to this movie from Sam Prekop and Hiorthoy!

David Sylvian Manafon Out 9/14 With Deluxe Edition

Next Tuesday (9/14) is the long-awaited release date of David Sylvian’s newest effort. Titled Manafon, it will be released on his Samadhi Sound record label he formed after he left Virgin Records in 2003.

This departure from Virgin has given David one of the most productive and creative periods since his 80′s output. But, I think it was the situation surrounding the ostensible 1991 Japan reunion album Rain Tree Crow that started to stress the relationship between Sylvian and Virgin.

These session started with improvisations of the band and were later amended with Sylvian’s vocals and lyrics. Around the time of the release Sylvian was interviewed (I think Magnet Magazine) and he said that he was under a lot of pressure to release the album unfinished– he had wanted to add more production and texture to the work.

It is the improvisational work that dots the landscape of Sylvian’s career, and a place he frequently stops on his particular path of creation.  Just as the initial session recordings for his departure album Blemish in 2003 were based on improvisational work done by Sylvian, Derek Bailey and Christian Fennesz and structured into a suite of sorts, so then is Manafon. In fact, Sylvian describes Manafon from his website as a “sister piece to the Blemish album.” The essay on the Manafon site describes the album as such:

…Sylvian pursues “a completely modern kind of chamber music. Intimate, dynamic, emotive, democratic, economical.” In sessions in London, Vienna, and Tokyo, Sylvian assembled the world’s leading improvisers and innovators, artists who explore free improvisation, space-specific performance, and live electronics. From Evan Parker and Keith Rowe, to Fennesz and members of Polwechsel, to Sachiko M and Otomo Yoshihide, the musicians provide both a backdrop and a counterweight to his own vocal performances – which, minus one instrumental, are nakedly the center of each piece.

Indeed, when you listen to the samples of each of the tracks from the site, it is noticeably more a vocal work  than instrumental. David’s voice still the gorgeous tenor it has always been, but the trademark lush and/or ambient production is non-existent apparently on Manafon.

In my article about Manafon from March of this year, I surmised that the album titled likely came from the Welsh village of the same name and mentioned the poet R.S. Thomas who studied the Welsh language while working as the rector. In the essay on the site it is confirmed that the track “Manafon” from the album is indeed about the Welsh poet– “There’s a man down in the valley who doesn’t speak his own tongue.”

Manafon will come in two forms: a standard CD release in a 6-panel digipak with the Ruud Van Empel artwork pictured above, and a Deluxe Edition which will have the same CD as the standar release, plus a DVD with a feature-length documentary titled “Amplified Gesture” and a 5.1 Surround (Dolby and DTS) version of Manafon.

If the bonus content of the Deluxe Edition weren’t enough, the CD and DVD will come with 2 hard back books in a rigid slipcase as well as a portrait print of Sylvian done by Atsushi Fukui. The first 2000 of this edition will be signed by Sylvian and Fukui.

Volume One of the two volume set is a “40 page full color printed, perfect bound book to accompany ‘Manafon’, featuring the complete lyrics from ‘Manafon’, accompanied by artwork from the artists Atsushi Fukui and Ruud Van Empel.”

Volume Two is “a 24 page full color printed, perfect bound book to accompany the documentary “Amplified Gesture”. With a foreword by Clive Bell, this book contains photos and biographies of all of the contributors to the documentary.” (quotes from the Manafon Editions Page)

The Deluxe Edition is simply breathtaking from the photo provided on the site. The edition is $85 plus shipping where applicable. While that may seem steep, consider what you are getting– CD and DVD plus two gorgeous books in a slipcover. It should sit proudly with any art book you may have in your collection.

The standard edition has a suggested price $15.99 and available either from Samadhi Sound or other retail outlets like Amazon- who has it for $12.99.

Related Posts with Thumbnails