The Italian group Belladonna has released a new song “Let There Be Light” which is based on Michael Nyman’s most famous composition “The Heart Asks Pleasure First” from The Piano. The single features Michael himself on piano, and is available for sale as an MP3 here http://www.amazon.co.uk/There-Light-feat-Michael-Nyman/dp/B004F9XBHQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294286484&sr=8-1-catcorr
Nyman With A Movie Camera is a unique visual experiment that radically resamples Dziga Vertov’s fly-on-the-wall snapshot of life in Russia in 1929, and provides a glimpse into the preoccupation with human existence that drives one of our greatest living avant-garde composers. Taking Vertov’s original masterpiece, Man With A Movie Camera, as the basis for his film, Nyman has frame-by-frame replaced the original images with footage from his own extensive film archive, which has been shot all over the world. Although almost a century separates the two artists, both share an interest in shooting ordinary people unawares in the hope of capturing some kind of truth, and there are stunning parallels in both their process and results. Today we preview an exclusive clip and speak to Nyman about his experiences remixing Vertov’s classic film.
Michael Nyman: “Vertov’s principle of shooting life caught unawares is something I subconsciously reproduce in my own work. What I generally do is have the camera watch someone for a few minutes in a kind of unbroken sequence, such as a drunken man trying to tie his tie on a train at seven in the morning, but the situation with Nyman With a Movie Camera is that I parallel and replace each and every image in Vertov’s s film in the same sequence that he does – I follow his editing rhythm. The interesting thing is that in the original film there is a kind of narrative, and obviously the scenes have been mostly shot in one or two places at more or less the same time. The purpose of my film is not to present the same kind of coherent narrative that the original does – my stuff has been shot all over the world – so it does actually tend to fracture. In my archive, I found parallels with Vertov’s film but I set myself a rule that I wouldn’t set up a shoot just to find the equivalent. I do have little windows of the original just to show the incredible parallels between something I happened to shoot and something he shot. It’s a strange attempt at coherence though, because although in many respects the film is contained by the parameters of Man with A Movie Camera, the result is a kind of incoherence. It’s interesting that since I started composing music, I have always sampled and remixed the work of other composers, which in art is what the Chapmans did with Goya, and what Picasso did with Velázquez. This film is me doing that in a much larger sense visually, and with much more thrilling material.”
Nyman With A Movie Camera Is Touring Film Festivals All Over The World. Preview available here: http://www.anothermag.com/current/view/571/Michael_Nyman
Michael Nyman’s career was built for this.
The British composer and filmmaker brings his Michael Nyman Band to Toronto this weekend for performances of the soundtrack he set to Dziga Vertov’s seminal 1929 film Man With a Movie Camera. On Saturday, the band plays Nyman’s score for Vertov’s film; and on Sunday, they’ll perform it again to Nyman’s own scene-by-scene remake of the film, NYman With a Movie Camera, which Nyman created using images from his own archive.
MICHAEL NYMAN WITH DAVID McALMONT
CITY HALLS, GLASGOW
By HIS own admission in the pre-show talk, composer Michael Nyman writes “tunes” and some of his very best were aired during this concert of two halves.
The first half featured a loud, invigorating selection of his audaciously stylised soundtrack
work for Peter Greenaway’s films.
The urgency and relentless momentum of the material made great physical demands on the players but the sheer gusto of Chasing Sheep Is Best Left To Shepherds outweighed the slightly chaotic delivery, while the soprano saxophone refrain snaking insistently through An Eye For Optical Theory and the irresistible feral force of Miranda were riveting.
In the second half, Nyman unveiled a new and unexpected collaboration, forged through Facebook of all places, with the stunning yet underrated British soul singer David McAlmont, who has added his somewhat eccentric lyrics to existing Nyman works.
McAlmont arrived with bling on his fingers and a marvellous instrument to add to the mix, though one could argue that Nyman’s exquisite theme from The Piano needs no adornment.
At first, on Take the Money and Run, it sounded like McAlmont would have to fight his corner, using crisp phrasing rather than his usual sumptuous delivery to stay on top of the music.
Soon enough though, his vocal melodies were dancing over the insistent strings or reclining gracefully over a tremulous piano ballad.
And, although generally less idiosyncratic than the Greenaway partnership, Nyman and McAlmont have created, with In Rai Don Giovanni, surely the only composition ever to combine the influence of Mozart and The Scissor Sisters.
The prospect of composer Michael Nyman and vocalist David McAlmont onstage, together, was a delicious one.
Nyman is best known for his soundtrack work, while McAlmont is rightly famed for his vocal acrobatics.
Saturday night’s performance, part of the excellent Minimal festival, had two distinct strands. The first was essentially a Nyman hits package. What was striking was that the music has held up better than many of the movies. Firmly rooted in systems-based composition, Nyman weaves an intriguing web of compelling piano motifs over which the 11-piece band plays with considerable gusto. The opening number, Franklyn, from Wonderland, was a case in point. For all the talk of minimalism the Nyman band is, at times, reminiscent of an outdoor brass band: big, bold and gallus.
Out of context and on their own, it is easier to recognise some of the reference points which Nyman has absorbed. There were two offerings from Prospero’s Books: Come Unto These Yellow Sands, over which the ghost of Gil Evans hovers, while the wonderful Miranda echoes the lyricism of Gershwin.
The second set introduced McAlmont to perform songs recorded for an album, The Glare, using his lyrics set against previously recorded Nyman compositions. While the result was occasionally underwhelming, with McAlmont’s voice set deep in the mix and competing for attention with the band, when his voice took full flight, as in A Great Day In Kathmandu and The Coldest Place On Earth, the hairs on the back of your neck stood to attention. Immaculate phrasing and a voice as sweet as Curtis Mayfield’s are McAlmont’s calling cards, and where did he buy that bling?
Star rating: ****