Music Assessment: ‘Massive Attack V Adam Curtis,’ a Movie and a Live performance

September 30th, 2013

Chad Batka for The New York Instances

Enormous Attack V Adam Curtis, a documentary collage about the erosion of heroism, optimism and dissent, is currently being demonstrated on 11 screens at the Park Avenue Armory, accompanied live by the British band Enormous Assault.

The excellent virtue of “Massive Attack V Adam Curtis,” a 90-minute live performance and movie that opened at the Park Avenue Armory on Saturday night time and runs by way of Friday, is the place afforded you to pay attention and feel. I indicate place in the bodily and metaphorical sense. The Armory is huge, and the echoey, bass-heavy, slow-moving sound of the British band Enormous Assault, taking part in reside guiding a couple of of the 11 bordering screens, feels fairly capacious, also.

Then there are the views expressed and connections manufactured in Mr. Curtis’s movie. It is a narrative documentary collage employing actual footage, narration and subtitles, telling many small tales to create 1 large tale, of how the impulse towards heroism, optimism, exploration and dissent has been eroded.

Individuals impulses have been changed, the movie relates, by condition-managed worry, algorithms, an obsession with normative behavior, overpolicing and overimprisoning, 24-hour news, an unhealthy involvement with our own previous and what the film’s block-letter text calls “THE SARCOPHAGUS OF Information.”

Amongst the subjects of its smaller sized stories are the British pop artist Pauline Boty and the Siberian punk singer and poet Yegor Letov. Amid its antiheroes are Jess Marcum, a former RAND Company physicist who grew to become a skilled card counter, and the Goldman Sachs economist Fischer Black. Amongst its villains are Ted Turner, Donald Trump, Nicolae Ceausescu and Prozac.

At its best, the film forces you to consider broadly and across group. But in the course of the film’s pedantic crescendos, that emotion of area significantly shrinks by means of shrill and almost paranoid messaging. The movie requires pains to provide hope at the end. Then you’re satisfied with a surprise bummer as you go away the space: tools of the oppressor. (I won’t say any far more.) This is a heavy-handed and occasionally contradictory piece of function. For all that it cautions from utilizing the past as recycled comfort, the ’90s sensibility of Substantial Attack’s songs is challenging to ignore. And in resisting an overdetermined long term, Mr. Curtis does a whole lot of minimizing and simplifying.

In the course of all of this, Massive Attack — alongside with the visitor singers Horace Andy and Liz Fraser — functions as a kind of house-band mood setter. The band handles at chronologically or thematically distinct locations music you could affiliate with the Shirelles, the Archies, Dusty Springfield, Bauhaus and Suicide. It provides passages of throbbing, darkish-ambient incidental music. And it at times brings together an outdated voice with a new instrumental backdrop: During a phase on the growth of the American jail method, you listen to again-to-again versions of “Where Did You Rest Previous Evening,” sung by Kurt Cobain and Lead Stomach, more than Enormous Attack’s core band.

The sound is a marvel, appropriately immersive, but not as well loud or cavernous. (United Visual Artists, the British artwork and layout store, is in cost of the set up and acquired it proper.) This project was commissioned by the Manchester Intercontinental Competition, the place it experienced its initial functionality very last summer. If it has a further daily life as a film with songs, screenable with out the band’s stay performance, it could lodge in international tradition as a perpetual undergraduate brain-blow — a a lot more political “Koyaanisqatsi,” say.

“Massive Assault V Adam Curtis” proceeds via Friday at the Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue at 67th Avenue (212) 933-5812, armoryonpark.org.

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