Asian Dub Foundation Live
Steve Chandrasonic - guitar
“The film is set in dystopian future where human procreation is forbidden and humans are sedated against emotional attachment, in order to comply with the police androids used to control the population, in the Orwellian style underground society. THX 1138 is played by a very young Robert Duvall, who begins to break from the system, when his room-mate replaces his medication. The film has some astonishingly accurate perception about surveillance and consumer societies.”
I have never seen the film or the band perform live before, although I do possess several recordings which I much admire. So this gig was something of an adventure, a journey into the unknown…The Liverpool Philharmonic is one of the truly great venues with an acoustic quality which suits both classical and modern. In short it’s a reviewer’s dream.
I arrived early and was fortunate to catch a large portion of a screened interview with the film’s original composer, and one of the industry’s true masters, Lalo Schifrin. He has been responsible for over one hundred film scores and it was fascinating to hear his observations/experiences on several famous film including THX 1138. This was a particularly complex and challenging task which Schifrin met with music that has been described as the most modern classic with jazz taking centre stage. In the intermission between the interview screening and actual performance some of this original music was played and I found it hard to believe that this was created back in 1973.
Asian Dub Foundation have never been shy of challenging and risk-taking which this undertaking surely was. What followed was one of the most inspiring events I have witnessed in many years of reviewing shows. This was extraordinary and rivetting show.
Prior to the show starting the huge screen displayed one of the film’s menacing android police seeming to guard the band’s instruments and computers. By each set of instruments were film monitors which the band members would watch closely during the whole performance.
As the lights dimmed the band members wandered onto the stage and the film started - as it would in a cinema complete with the full range of credits. During it’s ninety minute duration the band’s score was meticulous in matching the film’s emotional, threatening, dramatic and exciting moments. Fairbairn on drums was superb and extremely sharp while Lee’s wonderful flute was in virtual constant use. Such was the natural alliance between film and music that I watched every moment of the film except when I was trying to take photos. It was all so seamless and tight while utilising all the band’s generic music library - perfectly matched to the film’s vibe. With the blacked out stage the band ensured that the emphasis was firmly placed on the film projection with the result that the score was totally integrated into the presentation. This worked beautifully.
The Asian Dub Foundation has always been in the top echelon of bands but this film score takes them even higher in my estimation. Absolute respect!
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