Friday, June 29, 2012

Berberian Sound Studio

Last night,I was lucky enough to attend the world premiere of Peter Strickland's new film,Berberian Sound Studio and what an audio visual treat it turned out to be. Without giving away too many spoilers,the main narrative of the film centres around Gilderoy,a rather dowdy and reticent British sound engineer who is lured to Italy to record and produce the soundtrack to a lurid Italian 'Giallo' shocker. The setting for the film is loosely based on the pioneering Milan RIA electronic Studio di Fonologia where clinically precise sound technicians and composers such as Luciano Berio created high brow and avant garde musique concrete compositions by day and experimental film soundtracks for low budget horror films by night. Playing on this uniquely odd intersection between high and low  cultural forms, the film is oddly humorous and disquieting,fear and tension is consistently implied but never witnessed,the audience is aware of a grisly spectacle unfolding but the magnetism of the narrative resides,like in all good horror films, in what is heard rather than what is witnessed. Many of the visuals unfold like musical compositions, transforming the mundane minutiae of daily life into something sublimely poetical. Likewise sound is used to create cinema for the ears,imploding,colliding and blurring conventional cinematic narrative. Never before had I imagined the horror implicit in the ripping,shredding and scalding of an orchestra of vegetables. A special mention should be made of Julian House's beautifully evocative title sequence which is a graphic wundercabinet of haunting mondo exploitation and will have most horror fans salivating. I personally can't quite remember seeing such a rich and disturbing visual homage to the black arts. Wonderful.

Oh, ...... and as an afterthought there's plenty of oscilloscopes, echoplex tape recorders and vintage reel to reels to keep even the most demanding electronik tape boffin content. A must see and more importantly must hear film.