Soundwalk Collective | What We Leave Behind: Jean-Luc Godard Archives
This is quite an elaborate a/v project by Japan’s mAtter, taking on one of French New Wave cinema’s most important voices, Jean-Luc Godard. This is a collaboration between NYC’s Soundwalk Collective, the Jean-Luc Godard Archives, Radio France Culture, Deutschlandradio and filmmaker Stephan Crasneanscki and comes in a set (limited to 300 copies) that includes a DVD (44:35 mins, region free) and an expertly mastered cassette tape by Stefan Betke (Pole). Last year this was also available via the now sold out vinyl version. This ambitious set is an amalgamation of edited clips and fragments from the cutting room collaged into two lengthy sides, each over twenty-two minutes, that take you through a vast catalogue of striking bits and pieces.
Realisation: Stephan Crasneanscki
Reel-to-reel Tape Transfer: Simone Merli
Mixed by Tyler Friedman at Sakha Studio, Berlin
Mastered by Stefan Betke at ~Scape Mastering, Berlin
Produced by Soundwalk Collective w/Marcus Gammel [Deutschlandradio]
At first you are engaged by tonal disruption, and whispery French (English and Italian) voices, direction, clappers, footsteps, gunshots, deep breaths, crackling fire, explosions and an angelic chorus. You are basically on the soundstage here, between, before and between takes. This is a scrapbook love letter to cinema in general. Judging by the inspired collage graphics it would seem these shards are resurrected from some of his films of the 1980’s such as Hail Mary, Keep Your Right Up, First Name: Carmen and others.
The Soundwalk Collective (Stephan Crasneanscki and Simone Merli) have concocted a masterful melange of elements here, it’s as if you are eaves-dropping on the process, an all access backstage pass as filtered through an old fashioned answering machine style production. Actors’ voices full of laughter, passion, quite dramatic and lyrical in delivery. Every now and then there are short little classical melodies of piano and strings inserted into this stylish quasi documentary.
The B-Side glides fluidly from where we left off. Voices of the ingénue and the inspector, breaks by the director and conversation about where to go next with characterization. This back and forth between in front and behind the camera is a certain meta nod to the process rarely heard on recording like this. It’s a unique (albeit spliced and abbreviated) take on making movie soundtracks, done in a style that would likely amuse expert editors. As will Stephan Crasneanscki‘s accompanying film, which is celluloid porn (no, not that kind) as it literally focuses on the lushness of the archives themselves, the ephemera, from texts to reel-to-reel tapes in motion, film canisters, photographs to the actual filmstrips and collected book volume references.
He includes motion, photo montages, dark and light, in great sync with the abstract soundtrack composition. There is plenty pleasing in looking at the director’s markings and inspiration here. His film is as rhythmical and meta as its content, and he even goes inside the mechanisms (spindles, reels, playback units, written notes, abstractions thereof) of the projector itself. After listening first, I watched the DVD, and had two completely satisfying experiences. The are perfect complements to each other: sound and vision. And what a vision this is!