Lars von Trier

A daring vision of reality: Lars von Trier’s Melancholia

Posted on by 5:4 in Movies | Leave a comment

SPOILER ALERT: The following article discusses details of the plot of Lars von Trier’s Melancholia; anyone yet to see the film may wish to postpone reading further until afterwards.

Early in 2010, i devoted the first of my very occasional podcasts to the soundtrack of Lars von Trier’s film Antichrist. Von Trier is an artist whose work deeply fascinates me, and his latest film, Melancholia—which i saw for the second time last night—has made an even deeper impression than its predecessor; in fact, i struggle to think of a film that’s left me in such a profoundly moved state. Having read a number of reviews, it’s been interesting and surprising to see such widespread agreement as to the merits and achievement of Melancholia. Antichrist, with its body-clenching, excruciatingly graphic brutality, sharply polarised audiences; by contrast, Melancholia is calm and understated—but nonetheless, i believe it to be an even more challenging and potentially alienating work. The title says it all and says it plain: this movie is an unabashed exploration of depression as experienced, and as such first impressions might suggest that, for anyone unacquainted with that predicament, finding a way into the film could be difficult. Read more

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Mix Tape #18 : Hallowe’en

Posted on by 5:4 in Mix Tapes | 3 Comments

Caught up as i am this Hallowe’en weekend in a flurry of horror movies, it seemed only right to make the new 5:4 Mix Tape suitable for the occasion. For this Hallowe’en mix, i’ve trawled my library for music that’s particularly unsettling—so don’t expect to hear ‘The Monster Mash’ or anything like that.

Not surprisingly, a number of soundtracks are featured, of very different styles and manners. The opening of Johan Söderqvist‘s score for Let the Right One In is a masterpiece of foreboding tension; Joe LoDuca explores rapid-fire percussive sounds in this nervy section of his music for the classic The Evil Dead (and the image on the artwork is a beautiful still taken from the equally beautiful blu-ray transfer of Sam Raimi’s brilliant Evil Dead II). Christopher Young draws on evocative metallic clangs and the ominous tinkles of a music box for his Hellraiser soundtrack, going to the opposite extreme for its sequel, Hellbound, the overture of which aspires to the operatic. Angelo Badalamenti—featured twice—establishes an almost immobile, horribly enclosed mood in his music for season 2 of Twin Peaks and, even more so, Mulholland Drive. The extreme, though, is Lars von Trier and Kristian Eidnes‘ soundtrack to Antichrist, one of the most unconventional ever created, and certainly one of the best. Jerry Goldsmith‘s score for Basic Instinct functions like a vast orchestral suite, often eschewing dramatics for music that slowly builds with masterly restraint; Thomas Bangalter—in a break from being one half of Daft Punk—accompanied one of the most horrific scenes of film violence with this ludicrously effective and queasy bit of sound; and David Lynch‘s own music for his exhibition The Air is on Fire is an impossibly deep and dark ambient cycle, occasionally—as here—introducing elements of hauntology. Read more

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Podcast #1 – Antichrist Soundtrack

Posted on by 5:4 in Podcasts | Leave a comment

After thinking about it for far too long, here’s the first 5:4 podcast, devoted to an exploration of the soundtrack to Lars von Trier’s film Antichrist. If you’ve not yet seen the film, be warned that the plot is discussed at length, and in some detail (occasionally graphic). The podcast lasts just under an hour, and is available in FLAC and MP3 formats.

FLAC [175Mb]
MP3 [105Mb]

The soundtrack is only available as a digital download, from the below sites:
Play.com (recommended – 320Kbps)
iTunes store (presumably 256Kbps)
Zentropa (only 192Kbps)

Further links about the movie:
Official website
Infinite Thought
Les Films du Losange
Wikipedia

Podcast #1 – Antichrist Soundtrack by 5:4 on Mixcloud

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Best EPs of 2009

Posted on by 5:4 in Best of the Year | 1 Comment

As December draws to a close, it’s time once again to cast our collective eye back over the last 12 months. Before we get to the highlights, it’s only fair to say that 2009 has been filled with more than its fare share of disappointments. Kraftwerk finally succeeded in releasing The Catalogue, the “re-mastered” versions of their output, although success is hardly the word for a project that managed to inflict so much bombast on the music, bludgeoning it into the 21st century; only a few of the albums came through unscathed. Dangermouse and Sparklehorse managed to distract attention away from how genuinely awful was their album Dark Night of the Soul by whipping up a frenzy about that great über-menace the Corporate Record Label; for once, a label did listeners a favour, consigning this vacuous lame duck to peer-to-peer oblivion. A-ha attempted a revivification of their image, returning to ’80s synths, but in a context so compressed as to be almost impossible to listen to; Foot Of The Mountain must take the award for the most horrifically over-compressed album in recent times, although the fact it only has a single good song (“The Bandstand”) lessens the blow somewhat. Muse got delusions of orchestration, turning their quirky and usually impressive ideas into something damp and actually rather camp; The Resistance was hardly the best name for such a lacklustre album. Even the powerhouse that is Lydia Lunch seems to have lost her way, Big Sexy Noise only living up to the last of those epithets, and not in a good way. And one of the best songwriters of them all, Neil Hannon, rested firmly on his laurels with The Duckworth Lewis Method, his tongue so far into his cheek that it must be causing facial damage. It’s a shame that Hannon so often resorts to comedy and pastiche (forever lurking audibly in the wings of his Divine Comedy output); album highlight “The Age of Revolution” proves what the project might have been capable of, while “Jiggery Pokery” is absolutely horrific. But for me, the worst album of 2009 was a tie; Joe Goddard proved he’s simply rubbish both in and out of Hot Chip, his first effort, Harvest Festival, among the most dreadful experiences i’ve had this year. And what exactly led Tori Amos, one of the most interesting singer-songwriters of the last decade, to release the monstrosity that is Midwinter Graces? it is, literally, shockingly bad.

But let’s turn away from such infernal offerings, and move in a more paradisical direction. Thankfully, 2009 has also been filled with an abundance of excellent releases, and that’s where our attention should be fixed, beginning with the best EPs of the year. Read more

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