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Warm Digits / Jazzfinger, Cumberland Arms, Newcastle upon Tyne, 19th November 2006

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As part of the Northern Light film festival two local acts were set to perform alternate soundtracks to some selections from the nine day program spread around the city. While the two man Easter Island wrecking crew Jazzfinger revealed a film’s hidden layer, the Warm Digits collaborative project (Steve Jefferis of the melodically glitching Cathode and Andrew Hodson of the blissful The Matinee Orchestra) provided new live music to some Norman McClaren animations.


Jazzfinger opened the proceedings accompanying about 20 or so minutes of Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki’s The Man without a Past. Having seemingly chosen to ignore a straight soundtracking of the onscreen action, the duo went instead with a heavy underscoring of the lead character’s internal amnesia caused confusion. The film’s downhearted comedic plot was carried well enough by the subtitles; the infrequently acknowledged seriously mental chaos of the leads state of mind was made a central theme by Jazzfinger. This raging wall of swollen electric drone never overstepped its mark by swamping the film; in fact moments of synchronisation (for example the tuning of a radio) proved this wasn’t just a simple backing track exercise.

Warm Digits took on several short animations from abstract filmmaker Norman McClaren (made in the '30s and '40s) and coated them with dual laptop and live free drumming. Playing their own semi-improvised music over these incongruent animations, they breathed more than just a new stretch of life into these works, they made them utterly alive. The short ballet film Pas de Deux was given an ambient elegiac feel by the new live backing track. The music became a perfect counterpoint to the partially lit forms of the live actors on screen as they shifted and merged. The affectionately abstract sounds seemed too beautifully on point to be totally improvised, this was another of this shows that made you wish that the DiscLive service was compulsory for all gigs.

A Chairy Tale saw a man attempting to tame an over excitable chair matched with comedy evoking cartoon electronica droplets and synchronised taps and bangs from Hodson’s drum kit. The manic stained 35mm film chaos of Begone Dull Care was complemented again by Hodson’s free drumming attack and Jefferis’ scrambled frequency assault. Even an improvised setting can’t contain Hodson and Jefferis’ proclivity for instantly memorable melodies and relaxed structures.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 November 2006 16:47  


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