This is a shorter directors cut of the "Beast" video I made for Alexander Berne of Harbour Productions. Shot by Tal Shpantzer in Dumbo as a stop-frame animation with a digital still camera ( there is about 5 secs of HD video in it too).
I wrote the score to try to give a scary/mystical/quasi-Asian sound with the Paris world's fair and the historical introduction of Balinese/ Asian traditional music to the world of European Classical composers Debussy, Satie, ( don't forget the great Russian glockenspeil moment!!!).
I start off with a duet of out-of-tune-piano and anklung-ish/ kulingtang-ish instrument. As unlikely as that combo is, I have definitely enjoyed jamming on exactly that instrumentation in Bandung, Java. Also a reference to great metal scrapey jams in Solo, Java with Fahmy Alatas and Jefar at Mas Prapto's "Sharing Time" performance art melt-down.
There is a strong sense of "groove" in the track, with extensive use of the "Super-Draggin-Dub-Delay-Triplet". When I first sat in on a gamelan "latihan" (rehersal) in Simon's house in Bandung, I was intrigued by the way the drummer was the only one slipping in and out of the groove with huge amounts of "rubato", while the gongs and metalophones hammered away in steady rhythm ( the reverese to western "traditional' drum vs tuned instrument time-keeper roles ).
I wanted to leave space for the sound effect elements to build up a soundscape to abstractly define the locations.
Visually, I referenced the historical Muybridge stills of animals in motion. There is something interesting about the fetish-like "collect and measure" obsession found in some 19th century pseudo-sciences.
( some day I will make a feature length film about the 18th century craze for collecting Gases )
I imaged creating a 19th century Dada health care promo film. I wanted to make Victorian "lower thirds" and "branding" elements. With the numbering scheme in the titles, I wanted to imply that this was one film in an enormous archive of similar films. I imagine this film would have been screened at Madame Blavatsky's salon some night.
Shooting on location in DUMBO, NYC helped establish a 19th century look. The bridge support structures and the cobble-stones always look great. We were especially lucky to be shooting during a "Big Movie" shoot which had the streets car-free. Yeah!
Tal and team befriended a City worker who let us sneak in to the creepy "Chain-dungeon" room under the bridge. Thanks to Shawn from Rabbithole Gallery for letting us use the gallery as production office.
We shot the dancer sequences back in the Greenpoint studio.
Also a brilliant woodwind player, I hope to collaborate with the "Beast" again someday...
Learn more about the Beast here: