WVAU.org, London Calling: 65daysofstatic @ Duke of York Picture House

Click here to read the article on WVAU.org. Published January 4, 2012

I can honestly say I’ve never seen a live performance of a movie score, much less heard of the concept, until now. In late November, English band 65daysofstatic took their alternative score of the 1972 sci-fi flick “Silent Running” to the Duke of York Picture House in Brighton, Britain’s oldest continuously operating cinema.

The band premiered their revamped “Silent Running” soundtrack at the 2011 Glasgow Film Festival, as part of a series in which several artists composed and performed alternative scores to old films. 65’s take on the environmental space odyssey, the film that inspired the director of Pixar’s 2008 hit “WALL-E,” was so well-received the band decided to take it on tour, playing cinemas all over the UK. After further popular demand, 65 recorded their score, initially only released on vinyl and digital download in mid-November.

As a bit of a movie score geek, this was an exciting, intriguing new experience. How would 65 pull off exactly matching the pace of the film to their sound? Are you supposed to sit like when at the movies or stand like when at a gig? And where do you even look – the band or the screen? Answers: Lots of practice; sit; and both, the band played directly under the screen, so all that was required to switch your focus was a slight shift of the eyes.

The primary focus of the performance was the film, which was logical considering how the music so closely depends on the mood of the plot and pace of the editing. The band even made sure the audience was paying attention to the film, softening the volume when important dialogue kicked in so the audience wouldn’t miss out on major plot points.

The composition was in the same vein as Academy Award-winning “The Social Network” score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross: a recurring, sweet piano theme floated over distorted, industrial guitar riffs and racing, determined drums. The range in styles and sounds featured throughout the soundtrack also shows off the band’s versatility. In the 90 minutes of movie, 65 seamlessly weave in and out of melodic piano, galactic electronica, “Twilight Zone”-esque synths and epic post-rock swells.

65daysofstatic managed to hit that perfect balance of composing a soundtrack that had all the qualities, served all the functions and unmistakably sounded like a movie score, all while maintaining their distinctive sound and staying true to their experimental, glitch-rock roots.

Here’s the trailer for the vinyl release of “Silent Running,” featuring music from the score:

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