Artist: Various Artists
Title: Michelangelo Antonioni - Trilogy And Epilogue
Catalog Number: and/36
Release Year: 2010
Format: CD x 2
Status:  Available

Track List:

CD 1:
01.
Tyler Wilcox & Corey Fuller  7:05
02. Olivia Block & Adam Sonderberg  6:37
03. Marc Behrens  6:24
04. Roel Meelkop  6:06
05. Adam Sonderberg  2:14
06. J. Winston Phillips  6:17
07. Antti Rannisto  3:40
08. Ben Owen  6:32
09. Lawrence English  5:08
10. Asher  6:30
11. Pali Meursault (with Ici-Même)  6:36
12. EKG  (Kyle Bruckmann & Ernst Karel)  7:46

CD 2:
01.
Dale Lloyd  1:27
02. Juan José Calarco  4:51
03. Richard Garet  6:57
04. Alan Courtis  4:13
05. Luigi Turra  6:11
06. I8U  6:17
07. Steinbrüchel  6:54
08. Gabriel Paiuk  6:52
09. Jason Kahn  5:33
10. Fhievel  6:02
11. Tomas Phillips  7:07
12. Marihiko Hara  4:04

TOTAL TIME: 2 hours, 17 minutes and 12 seconds.
The third and perhaps final project in the film director series which began
with
Andrei Tarkovsky - Another Kind Of Language and Yasujiro Ozu -
Hitokomakura
. Michelangelo Antonioni - Trilogy And Epilogue focuses upon
the Italian auteur's landmark "tetralogy" of films L'Avventura (1960), La Notte
(1961), L'Eclisse (1962) and Il Deserto Rosso (1963).

Antonioni was known for not being very keen to use music in his films,
partially because he wanted the films to tell their stories free from "additional
gloss". Therefore music was sparsely used - if at all. Antonioni considered
the natural sounds or "background noises" of a film to be of enormous
importance, and considered them to be the "true music" of a film. Obviously
Antonioni's view resonates with and/OAR since environmental sound has
always been it's main focus, and is one of the reasons why he was chosen
for this project over other film directors. Composer Giovanni Fusco, whose
music is (more or less) featured in most of Antonioni's films from the late
1950s to the early '60s said, "the first rule for any musician who intends to
collaborate with Antonioni, is to forget that he is a musician!"

Yet, there is another composer who Antonioni worked with, that this project
seeks to acknowledge and pay subtle homage to in addition to the director
himself; because if it were not for his inspirational and pioneering minimal
electronic music featured in "Deserto Rosso", this project might not have
come together at all: Vittorio Gelmetti. Gelmetti's electronic work consistently
came to mind during the planning stages of this project, and his influence
can indeed be heard throughout this release.
Just Outside  (March 2011)
A nice idea and an impressive cast assembled for this two-disc set. Music
inspired by l'Avventura, La Notte, l'Eclisse and Deserto Rosso, arguably the
strongest section of the director's oeuvre with musicians including Olivia
Block, Roel Meelkop, Ben Owen, Lawrence English, Asher, Richard Garet,
Gabriel Paiuk, Jason Kahn and many more, 24 tracks in all, some 136
minutes of sound.

I'm generalizing, but I do feel that the pieces coalesce around a similar
sensibility, one that's fittingly appropriate to the Antonioni of this period: a
certain bleakness, a sense of isolation, yet a fascination with textures that
are often, in a post-industrial way, beautiful. In fact, I thought many of the
pieces could serve as quite able soundtracks for that last, amazing shot in
"l'Eclisse", tracking toward the streetlight, replacing the piano in the film. The
sounds tend to involve held tones, in layers, sparse and dry, with the odd
filigree spinning out like a steel shaving (there are exceptions, of course).

It's also a remarkably consistent collection. I really didn't find a single track
out of 24 to lack some value. By the same token, only a couple struck me as
extraordinary in any way, those being the pieces (all tracks are untitled) by
Asher and EKG. Other fine contributions are heard from Olivia Block and
Adam Sonderberg, Gabriel Paiuk and Jason Kahn. I'm not sure this is a
criticism, but the uniformity of quality of the pieces and their Antonionian (!) air
sometimes caused them, in my mind, to blend together a bit. I'm not sure
that part of me might have preferred a single disc. That's a quibble, though.

Oddly enough, I also found myself thinking that you could do worse than this
set insofar as introducing curious but naive friends to this area of music. The
work is certainly solid and rich enough to hold the attention of the innocent,
inquisitive listener.  (Brian Olewnick)
Textura  (April 2011)
Michelangelo Antonioni's filmography offers such a rich source of imagery
and themes it's a wonder no experimental music project has appeared until
now based upon it. All credit goes to and/OAR then, for choosing the Italian
auteur as the third in its film director series (previous volumes honoured
Andrei Tarkovsky and Yasujiro Ozu), with the two-disc set, formally titled
Michelangelo Antonioni - Trilogy and Epilogue, focusing on L'Avventura
(1960), La Notte (1961), L'Eclisse (1962), and Deserto Rosso (1963).
Antonioni is, of course, the master of ennui and alienation whose works are
populated by wandering souls who either vanish altogether (L'Avventura) or
co-exist but with the littlest of connection to one another. Not surprisingly, he
preferred that his films be generally unencumbered by music's presence,
believing that his stories would breathe better without such interference; in
that regard, Giovanni Fusco, whose music appears in most of Antonioni's
films from the late 1950s to the early ‘60s, apparently declared, “The first rule
for any musician who intends to collaborate with Antonioni, is to forget that he
is a musician!”

A few other background details are worth noting before turning to the
contents of the release itself, specifically Antonioni's sensitivity to the
importance of natural sounds—what he regarded as the “true music” of a
film—and the pioneering electronic music that Vittorio Gelmetti contributed to
Deserto Rosso. Such dimensions of the director's work draw a clear line
connecting the artists featured on and/OAR's recording, all of whom in one
way or another share like-minded sensitivities to environmental sound and
to the role of electronics in current music-making practices. The set features
over two hours of lower-case, electro-acoustic works peppered with the
kinds of pregnant pauses and empty spaces that characterize Antonioni's
films. Some of the pieces (all untitled) are heavily electronic in nature (Marc
Behrens' turbulent setting, Antti Rannisto's throbbing drone), while others
inhabit an interzone where acoustic instruments (clarinet, cello), natural
sounds (industrial creaks, cavernous rumbling), and electronic
manipulations reside. The artists involved will be familiar to those
conversant with the microsound genre, with figures such as Roel Meelkop,
Ben Owen, i8u, Lawrence English, Steinbrüchel, Jason Kahn, and Tomas
Phillips taking part. The piece by Pali Meursault (with Ici-Même) stands out
as one of the settings that is most rich in outdoor sounds, with train clatter,
traffic noise, and bird sounds threading their way into the mix. Richard
Garet's sub-lunar exploration sounds like the essence of La Notte and
L'Eclisse distilled down to a seven-minute form. Dale Lloyd's brief piano
rumination arrives as a breath of fresh air amidst such abstractions, as does
Marihiko Hara's at album's close.

The package for the release includes two quotes taken from Seymour
Chatman's 1985 book Antonioni: Or, the Surface of the World, one of which in
particular merits inclusion here for the clarity it brings to the director's
approach: “Antonioni asks us to take a slow, steady look at the world around
us, to forget our ordinary preoccupations, and to contemplate that which lies
slightly athwart them.” Michelangelo Antonioni - Trilogy and Epilogue
accomplishes much the same thing, albeit in its own unique fashion.
The Wire   (June 2011)
"I am personally very reluctant to use music in my films, for the simple
reason that I prefer to work in a dry manner, to say things with the least
means possible," said Michelangelo Antonioni in 1961, the same period in
which he shot the films L'Avventura, La Notte, L'Eclisse and Il Deserto
Rosso. So it's appropriate that this collection of 24 homages to those films,
following two previous and/OAR collections dedicated to Ozu and Tarkovsky,
contains few obviously 'musical' elements: Dale Lloyd and Marihiko Hara
both feature tentative pianos, and Kyle Bruckmann plays cor anglais on
EKG's fine track, but otherwise we're in a world of vast spaces, ambiguous
soundscapes, changing weather and glowing noise.

Atmospheric works by Juan Jose Calarco and Richard Garet could easily be
soundtracks in their own right. i8u (aka Montreal's France Jobin) is
hyper-minimal, shifting curtains of colour just barely there. Asher has
possibly buried a string orchestra in his back yard, while Tomas Phillips
melds chiming bells with intakes of breath (lifted from an Antonioni
soundtrack?). Also excellent are Olivia Block with Adam Sonderberg, and Pali
Meursault's filmic concrète, a dream of trains with squeaky window hinges.
All these tracks are consistent with one another, meaning the collection
works surprisingly well as a straight-through listen.

and/OAR's Ozu homage came accompanied by an online booklet of photos
and track info, but here the link between music and films is never discussed,
which suits Antonioni fine. Stuck in our memories, his images become the
music's context. Its ambiguity fits them like a glove: Monica Vitti's bleak
couplings, those urban landscapes where something or someone is
missing. (Clive Bell)
The Watchful Ear  (May 2011)
Tonight I have finally got around to writing up a two disc set I’ve had playing
here for a couple of weeks, a compilation named Michelangelo Antonioni –
Trilogy and Epilogue released on the and/OAR label.

Now, I am probably one of the least qualified people to write about this
album. The two discs contain twenty-four tracks by a host of musicians that,
on the whole I know the music of relatively well. That’s the easy bit. They are
however making music here that is in some way inspired by four films by
Antonioni, and I have never seen a film by Antonioni. Before anyone
comments below to tell me what I’m missing, I know, I know…. I just prefer to
keep film out of my life. I’m very aware that if I spent some time investigating
the genre, I may be lost in it for ever, so its easier to just remain ignorant.
This doesn’t help me much though when a set like this appears. All I can
really do is talk about the music in itself. I’be no idea how well any of this
music responds to the film work.

As there are twenty-four separate tracks here, twelve on each disc, and given
that I do want to get to bed tonight rather than tomorrow morning, I’m going to
have to pick out my favourite tracks rather than try and say something about
all of them. The list of names here is impressive however, with each track by
a different musician, with twenty-one of the pieces solo works and three
duos, and only Adam Sonderberg appearing twice, once on his own and
once in duo with Olivia Block. On the first disc it is indeed Sonderberg and
Block that provide the first real stand-out track. A mix of electronic tones, a
reed instrument (maybe an oboe?) perhaps some percussion and definitely
some field recordings, in particular some beautifully recorded rain showers
comes together in a very lovely manner, perhaps not that originally, but
certainly with great craft and no small amount of beauty. Marc Behrens also
offers a great six minute track, a dramatic set of mini explosions that sounds
like water or something pouring onto some kind of thin metal sheet, then
processed and warped into very sudden, unnerving events. I may have got
this entirely wrong, but that’s what it sounds like to me, and its a great little
piece, full interestingly different sounds but with the mark of digital
processing stamped over them here and there.

Sonderberg’s solo offer is a fraction over two minutes in length and consists
of tiny digitally disrupted fragments of speech, all of it completely
incomprehensible and barely resembling the human voice at all, with each
little part submerged in a field of empty silence otherwise. Ben Owen offers
six minutes of slowly evolving drone peppered by what sounds like contact
miked wire fences and a trickling stream but probably isn’t. The track is full of
detail, voices emerge at one point, footsteps at another, with a continual
slightly oppressive hum hanging behind all of it, its presence never forgotten.
Asher’s quietly simmering cracks and pops also work very well, with more
footsteps, this time alone, softly trodden and thoroughly cinematic, yet all
kept within Asher’s familiar grey, nostalgic style and never rising in volume or
energy levels. EKG, the duo of Ernst Karel and Kyle Bruckmann vie with Block
and Sonderberg for the first disc’s stand out piece though, a hauntingly
morose, brooding piece in which Bruckmann’s oboe wanders in a forlorn,
lonely manner around little sections of electronic hum and chatter, never
breaking out into anything dramatic, but still filled with plenty of aural imagery.
Listen with your eyes…

Disc two opens with a brief piano (though it might be an electronic keyboard)
piece by and/OAR label boss Dale Lloyd that starts a little busy but slips into
a tiny vignette that fits somewhere between early Feldman and Satie, a nice
way to open the disc. A couple of tracks later, Richard Garet’s barely audible
blend of grey hum, more rain sodden streets and deadened piano chimes is
very beautiful in kind of isolationist, cloudily empty ambient manner. His
piece is very beautiful, maybe slightly familiar but hard to resist for its simple
beauty all the same. Alan Courtis, one of several South Americans here on a
set that otherwise has a strong North American feel, then gives us a piece
that makes Garet’s sound thoroughly energetic. The thinnest of sinetones
follows the slightest of barely registering bleak distortion. This piece is right
up my street, very focused, simple and direct, but very very quiet and bleak in
atmosphere. Lovely, if not exactly uplifting stuff.

The second disc has several tracks of a similarly empty nature. Luigi Turra’s
contribution sees small metallic sounds caught in a resonant room matched
with more present, sampled sounds, but again the sensation is one of calm,
deathly slow near silence. Neither i8u or Steinbrüchel exactly raise the roof
either, but their sound, complete with a more digital edge doesn’t quite
match the delicacy of Courtis or Garet’s tracks. Gabriel Paiuk, an Argentinian
musician best known as an improvising pianist then provides another
thoroughly calm, evocative work, maybe a mix of instrumental and
environmentally recorded sounds, maybe not, but again so much of the
piece is reduced to near silent, colourless abstraction that the source
material seems completely irrelevant. Jason Kahn’s percussion and
electronics based drone track is as perfectly good an example of this area of
his work as a six minute window might allow, and the album’s closing piece
by a name I think unknown to me Marihiko Hara is another slightly processed
piano track, the little jaunty grabs of the instrument sampled, cut up, moved
about and mixed with hisses and a hint of more field recordings to end the
disc nicely and with a suitable counterpart to the discs’s opening track.

I don’t know the films of Antonioni, but listening to this music I picture bleak,
melancholic images, possibly black and white (as there is little colour in this
collection of music) and with a very slow sense of progression. Assuming
each of the musicians was separately asked to produce something for the
compilation it is notable how similarly themed much of the music is, and so I
sense that the film maker must have had a very well known trademark style
and that a feeling of beautiful and yet maybe tragic sadness flowed through
his work. Irrelevant of my understanding of this music’s greater meanings, I
found Triology and Epilogue to be a very enjoyable couple of discs, great
music to play late at night, even better if, as is the case here tonight, rain can
be heard pattering outside the open window as the CDs play. Very beautiful
then. Now, somebody tell me Antonioni made hectic martial arts films?  
(Richard Pinnell)
Fouter & Swick  (April 2011)

* Note:To read the review with a suggested reading list, visit here.

This wonderful double CD sent to me by and/OAR’s Dale Lloyd is a collector’
s item. Anyone interested in film, film music and sound, or simply wishing to
explore the work of a range of excellent artists should have this album in their
collection.

The concept behind the album was to invite selected sound artists to
consider a series of basic guidelines in responding to four of Michelangelo
Antonioni’s films: L’Avventura (1960), La Notte (1961), L’Eclisse (1962) and Il
Deserto Rosso (1963). I imagine that in broad terms the individual works
would set out to respond to the films individually or collectively, considering
themes and topics common to all: specifically cinematic topics such as
narrative, the various psychological and emotional moods of the tetralogy,
cinematography, and of course film sound itself, an area in which Antonioni
is highly respected.

There must be hundreds of ways of mapping the wealth of topics in even one
film to a response in sound alone: mood, narrative, cues from the
soundtrack and so on. In fact the only element that I can think of which would
be almost impossible to map to sound is the elusive quality of stage
presence. The two films with which I’m familiar, L’Avventura and La Notte,
featuring the likes of Monica Vitti, Gabriele Ferzetti, Marcello Mastroianni and
Jeanne Moreau, are blessed with an abundance of stage presence (much to
the envy I’m sure of many contemporary Hollywood directors who have to
make do with the merely handsome, beautiful and sexy).

Two sleeve note quotation’s from the work of Seymour Chatman, an expert
on Antonioni’s work, will help set the context:

Antonioni asks us to take a slow, steady look at the world around us, to forget
our ordinary preoccupations, and to contemplate that which lies slightly
athwart them.

Antonioni’s lifelong effort (was) to uncover the meanings of things beneath
the mystery of their appearances.

If somebody asked me to respond to Antonioni’s work, my first task would be
to turn to the films first of all and to look at the mapping possibilities. For
example, L’Avventura is in black and white, which to my way of thinking
suggests a very obvious mono piece, as opposed to stereo. The
instrumental music by Giovanni Fusci has implications, picked up in due
course by those artists who made use of woodwind and reed instruments in
their contributions, Tyler Wilcox/Corey Fuller and EKG.

Both L’Avventura and La Notte have something not quite right in the
man/woman relationships, a Hitchockian unease, which seems to have
been explored by the many of the artists, particularly in the form of sustained
tones (or drones) with accompanying field recording or foley type sounds, for
example Block/Sonderberg, Calarco, Courtis.

Antonioni often manages to sustain interest with nothing much happening,
or more accurately with a sense of uncertainty as to what’s going on,
reminding me of some of Robbe-Grillet’s novels. Not an easy feat. The
radically linear works of i8u and Adam Sonderberg would seem to allude to
the ‘nothing much happening’ interpretation; the works emphasising field
recordings, the majority in other words, certainly emphasise uncertainty.

While we’re on the topic of field recordings, there would seem to be a
correspondence going on, across many of the pieces, between field
recordings and foley sound at a very basic level, and between field
recordings and the complexity of film sound (less consciously I suspect) as
revealed by Michel Chion in his essential text Audio Vision: Sound on Screen.

The island in in L’Avventura, from which Anna disappears, suggests to me
the island in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a place where all manner of
strange sounds, happenings and mischief come to pass. But these potential
energies are tempered or undermined in that any reasonable symbolic
correspondences find themselves compromised by the ‘just there-ness’ and
lassitude of the players. The complexity and ambiguity of this uneasy amoral
mood, also found in the ‘existential’ novels of Camus, comes across in
those works that concern themselves less with wide dynamics and sonic
exploration and more with a sense of menacing stasis.

Overall, Antonioni uses sound extremely well in his films, on a par at times
with Tarkovsky’s sensual meditations on streams, rivers, rain and other
water sources. He frequently foregrounds engine sounds, boats and
especially trains (explored by Meursault, Paiuk, Garet) to the point of
wallowing in their uniqueness. In La Notte we have a range of aircraft,
helicopter and rocket sounds – symbolic or random (who knows?) but
certainly menacing and possibly implying a desire to escape. In L’Avventura
the quality and shape of the wind sounds inside the cabin on the island
would grace any field recordists catalogue, as would the sea sounds. The
interplay between foley and dialogue, beautifully orchestrated at times,
jumps out at you, offering yet another possible mapping for the sound artist.
J. Winston Phillips’ offering, to take but one example, explores some of this
interplay. In general most of these subtleties are not lost on the contributing
artists. Listening out for specific allusions has been one of the most
enjoyable treats on this album.

Across the films that I watched we have the same seemingly random,
unexplained, almost meaningless events such as random sexual
encounters in a hospital which reminded me of Kafka’s The Trial, in which
girls appear oneirically and seem to make themselves available as and
when desired. To my ears, those pieces which seemed to tackle this theme
of randomness or meaninglessness made the greatest impact, above and
beyond any cleverness in composition.

Given the difficulty in ordering 24 individual pieces with so many similarities
and differences between them, the album is very well curated and presented.
For example CD1 is bookended by works using reed and woodwind, CD 2 by
piano works. One slight problem I had was how to go about listening to it. I
always like to know who I’m listening to, which is difficult with 12 artists
presenting a short (4 – 7 minutes on average) track on each CD. I suppose
you could plug yourself into the old iPod and wander about bumping into
people and things, but good artists like these deserve much closer listening.

Because of the politics and economics of the film industry we won’t get large
scale commercial movies with sound by artists like those on the album.
Nowadays in particular sound is often left till last, an afterthought, made even
more problematic if a big name composer has to be paid his large fee. So, in
order to get a glimpse into a rosier future, I recommend that you put the CDs
on random, both CDs in the player if possible, then watch one of the movies
with the sound muted. The coincidences that arise are highly edifying and
always give me a heightened sense of optimism for very interesting possible
futures where sound and moving image can seek out new relationships.

I mentioned Michel Chion earlier and would like to return briefly to his work to
round off. As I said, his work is a fine resource for sound artists. I was
particularly helped in my own understanding of film sound, and in my
research and practice with representational sound in general: environmental
field recordings/phonography/what-you-will. Specifically, I found it interesting
that four of his many definitions and terms seemed to gather in most of the
important elements at play in the contributing works.

Elements of auditory setting (EAS): sounds with a more or less punctual
source which appear more or less intermittently and help to create a film’s
space by means of specific, distinct small touches, for example, dog’s
barking, phones in an office next door. EAS inhabits and defines a space
unlike permanent ‘sound’ (birds, surf) that is the space itself.

Ambient sound (territory sound): sound that envelops a scene and inhabits
its space (birds, churchbells). These might be called territory sounds
because they inhabit a particular locale.

Materialising Sound Indices (MSIs): these pull the scene towards the
material and concrete. Absence can lead to the ethereal, abstract and fluid.

Superfield: the space created by ambient natural sounds, city noises, music,
etc. that can issue from speakers outside the boundaries of the screen.

Cinema, in combining elements of the novel and the theatre, is able to
demand multiple, ambiguous and even contradictory readings. It is a place
of semiotics and it is here that I find much common ground with purely sonic
work based on field recordings. and/OAR is therefore to be congratulated for
making important connections between art forms and for drawing together
such a gifted pool of artists under the same conceptual roof. So next time
can we please have a go at Tarkovsky’s The Mirror?  (James Wyness)