The Twilight Drone On At the Film Archive
This Week The Pelorus Trust Mediagallery Presents
A live audio/visual performance by Johannes Contag
7pm, Thurs 17 April
$8 / $6
New Zealand Film Archive mediatheatre
A film with live accompaniment by musician/video artist Johannes Contag. As Contag’s previous Sleepytime musical releases were a homage to the origins of ambient music, this current work explores the notion of the ambient film. Presented in association with the Artist's Film Festival curated by Paula Booker.
The Twilight Drone is the third instalment in Johannes Contag’s Sleepytime series. While the previous releases were music albums, containing hypnotically slow, minimal and at times meditative pieces of instrumental music, The Twilight Drone is a musical film. As Contag’s previous Sleepytime releases were an homage to the origins of ambient music, the current work explores the notion of the ambient film.
Over a period of 49 minutes, the camera follows three silhouetted figures in a snowy paddock, their actions structured by an unknown choreography. True to the static nature of ambient film, there is no overall plot or narrative, and there is no perceivable character development; instead, the figures’ movements are repeated, reversed, mirrored, doubled, inverted, sped up, slowed down, coloured, extracted.
The accompanying soundtrack is based on a constant, undulating filter drone that is at times embellished with rhythms and textures but essentially stays true to its cyclical nature for the duration of the film. It is this which really sustains the film’s non-developmental structure, creating a broad arc of dynamics to engage the viewer until the end.
At the live presentation of The Twilight Drone, Contag will enhance the existing soundtrack with a range of improvised instrumental textures that spontaneously respond to the visual material and emphasise the work’s static atmosphere.
Johannes Contag has previously worked with the music group Cloudboy, with whom he produced two albums and did several live film/music projects. The most ambitious of these was Shape Of The Land in collaboration with the Film Archive (2002/3), a programme of 1920s governmental and private films accompanied by a live electro-acoustic soundtrack performed by the band. This was toured extensively in New Zealand as well as Europe.
Another film/music highlight with Cloudboy was a live soundtrack to the film Baraka. Most recently, Contag has released an album with Jay Clarkson (Over The Mountain) and an L.P. with improvised drone rock band Bad Statistics, which was published by Belgian record label Kraak. Contag will tour in Europe to promote both this album and The Twilight Drone later in the year.