Thursday, July 31, 2008

"The Next World"

Spaewaif asked freelance artist Len E. Burge a few questions regarding his animation short film "The Next World" with music by Cindytalk.

1.Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

This is always a hard question for me but I'll try. I am a 41 year old sculptor living in Ventura Ca with my bride to be and our three wonderful children. They are my life and ultimate inspiration!
As for career,I am a freelance sculptor-artist-animator-toy designer-inventor or whatever someone wants me to create. I'll find a way. My interest in creating film or video only comes when it is a total creative and free process. So, I don't do it very often.
I am currently creating sculpture work that I lightly manipulate on a computer to create images from my brain. This is my first endeavor in total inspired art that I would love to show in galleries. Finding the right gallery is another story.

2. You once wrote this self-introduction:
"My work borders on the edge of the pre-sleep imagination.
That space right between consciousness and unconsciousness where brilliant thought might enter the feeble mind."
I can very much relate those thoughts to Cindytalk's own work.When did you become acquainted with Cindytalk's music?

High school 1983?.
A friend's mother lent me some very interesting records. The one I fell in love with was the first "This Mortal Coil" .
I then learned of the different artists like Gordon Sharp and the different labels creating great new music.
An amazing awakening.
As for "Pre-sleep imagination and brilliant thought entering the feeble mind",this is a state I hope and wish everyone on the planet and beyond might feel at some point. Where consciousness and unconsciousness meet. They blend to reveal thoughts or many patterns of thoughts changing and revealing images or thoughts totally forgotten by the waking mind. The feeling that you have all the answers in the universe and that you are totally aware, BUT! You wake up. Often times the waking mind will erase this and make it feel too simple. Maybe so you will forget and go on with your daily routine. Maybe it's too soon for evolution of the mind to take place. I don't really know. Anyway, the end.

3.Your short film "The Next World" features music from
"The Wind is strong".
When Gordon Sharp and I talked about it,he was particularly impressed with the way the images fit the music.
How did you script the film? Did you first weave music into images or images into music?

"The wind is strong" is probably my favorite record I hold right up there with other ambient works from Eno to Budd. This kind of music is like a soundtrack to my life-work. Enhancing creativity rather than distracting. Creating a dream-like atmosphere in which to work to.
I knew which track I wanted and I knew the look and the style of the film. So, I sat down and created timed storyboards.
That is essential to animation because time is of the essence and every frame is used.
Obviously, I am very indebted to the great work of "The Brothers Quay", their work is amazingly flawless and beautiful.
With "The next world" I was going more for an old fashioned German expressionist style.

4.Time and its fragile but inexorable passing seems to be one of the themes of your film.
I am also curious about the character that falls down from above after peaking into a world seemingly beyond their position inside the clock...
Can you tell us more about the main ideas behind it?

The first little character in the film is under the impression that it controls and maintains the timeless dimension of "The next world". In his lonely curiosity he discovers another entity behind the scenes, so to speak. This startles him so he falls, destroying his outer shell and revealing that that he is the simple metal frame that he glimpsed in the beginning. Distraught, he sits and ponders when the real caretaker comes to meet him. Arms outstretched, he remembers and goes with the caretaker. The caretaker shows him the door to the next world. He enters and starts the cycle over. He will continue to repeat this life until he gets it right.
This is how I view life. Repeat until you get it right. I hope I'm getting it right.

5.The figures in your film are so full of life yet so fragile! Which materials did you use?

This film was very "green": 97% recycled wood and antique parts from an old film studio. Having only $10,000 to work with this was a necessity that really worked out well.

6.When did you film this work? Also,there seems to be a funny connection with Schindler's list...

I was approached, I think it was 1994?, by a rock band. They wanted me to direct an animated video for them. They only had $10,000 so I said I would if I had total creative control. They agreed. I made the Cindytalk film.
Then I put their music on a copy and gave it to the label. Nothing happened with it except for the experience and enjoyment of film making for me.
The studio I was working with supplied me with 35mm color film. I really wanted black and white. I called a lab and they said they would trade the color for leftover Schindler's list stock. So,of course! It was the highest quality b/w film on the market at the time. I was very lucky.

7.Which other Cindytalk music would you put images to?

So many! Well, Snowkisss would be wonderful although I really like what someone did on youtube. Very interesting. All of the Wind is Strong. That would be nice.

The Wind Is Strong was released in 1990.
Cindytalk members for this "diversion" were:

Gordon Sharp
Ivan Unwin
Matthew Kinnison
Paul Middleton

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ghost Drift Images: Cindytalk at the 12 Bar 30 June 2008

This video excerpt includes the following tracks
(laptop material in lower case, band performances in upper case):
I Walk Until I Fall (partial) | A USEFUL MELANCHOLY | If We Meet,
We Meet In Silence | PRINCE OF LIES | Shibuku (partial).

"There can't be many groups who I started listening to almost twenty-five years ago who are still going, let alone ones whose output still means much to me. In fact, of the handful of artists whose work I liked then and who are still active, none has released anything that has struck much of a chord with me for quite some time. The people who I tend to think of as my long-term favourites came slightly later, in the mid-to-late 1980s.

Only one band I was listening to at the age of sixteen still has the power to intrigue and excite me and that band is Cindytalk. The wayward, enigmatic Cindytalk, whose last "proper" album was released in 1994 (though a couple of subsequently planned releases have surfaced via the internet). The band who I'd only ever seen perform live once, in late 1995 at the Dublin Castle in Camden. The band who I'd ever wondered if I'd see on stage again.

It's funny how things go. They did a gig towards the end of last year in London, but I couldn't make it. A couple of months ago, I found myself enthusing about them to a friend of a friend. I ended up re-immersing myself in their albums, making a compilation CD of what I considered to be their most intriguing material. This influenced one of my written pieces at the time. Then, a few days later, a London gig was announced.

Chance, or fate? Who knows. Where Cindytalk are concerned, anything is possible. A band cursed and blessed: cursed with a considerable degree of bad luck surrounding the ownership and re-releasing of their back catalogue; blessed with an extraordinarily singular vision, an individuality and a purity that has seen them charting solitary territory throughout their existence. A band without peers, with all the joy and terror that this implies.

The problem I always have with Cindytalk when trying to convey their appeal to others is trying to encapsulate them in a way that does them justice. I used to describe their debut album Camouflage Heart as "the soundtrack to my dreams". That's probably a more honest reaction than rattling off a list of comparable band names, but it's also the only approach I've ever been able to take. They don't sound like anyone else.

So, here's my conundrum: how do I review this gig? For a start, it comes with a weight of expectation, the pent-up appetite of over a decade. All critical faculties desert me as I approach its convulsive beauty. The most realistic tack would be to say nothing, to urge you to click on the YouTube excerpt above and experience it for yourself. And yet, I'd feel rather selfish doing that. I need to try, at least, for the people who couldn't be there.

The set lasted around forty-five minutes. It was mixture of ambient laptop backing and four-piece band performance. Straightforward, in many ways: guitar, bass, drums, vocals. Oh yes, those vocals. Gordon Sharp still has one of the strongest, most beautiful voices I've ever heard. A voice that connects with something elemental yet floats amongst the stars, matched by a musical backdrop of considerable subtlety and power.

In fact, the music was something of a surprise. If there's any long-term trend to Cindytalk's output, it seems to be one of de-structuring and dissolution. However, the band performance was remarkably melodic and song-oriented, amongst the expansive, ambient electronica of the backing material. Also, it was great to hear the excepts from Ghost Dance (a favourite film of mine) featuring as part of the set.

Watching Gordon on stage, I'm thrown back to that first startling moment when I heard his voice on This Mortal Coil's unexpectedly compelling 16 Days Gathering Dust cover version. I'm sixteen again, alive to the overwhelming possibility of the world: the potential, the beauty, the desire, the rawness. And yet, here we are: I'm forty and I feel no different. The ongoing journey has only made these things more precious.

Cindytalk do this to me. No amount of hyperbole is going to frame it, express it or contain it. They are, utterly, without doubt, one of the defining bands of my lifetime. I wish they were more well-known, but at the same time I know that the very things that epitomise them work against that. If they start playing gigs more regularly I might stand a chance of becoming more objective and critical. Until then, I'm content to be overawed."

Video & Words by Stuart aka Hydragenic
Photography by Richie Young

Set list:

The titles in capitals are those played by the group, the rest are the tracks played as part of the laptop set:

How Soon Now... | Above The Paving Stones, The Stars | SPEECHLESS CAGE | Fly Away Over Here | Hanging In The Air | LOST BETWEEN US | Maglev | WIDENING THE FOCUS | From The Mountain | I Walk Until I Fall | A USEFUL MELANCHOLY | If We Meet We Meet In Silence | PRINCE OF LIES | Shibuku | OUTSIDE OUT | Signalling Through The Flames | A Distant Kite | The Eighth Sea | MY DRIFT IS A GHOST |...until we disappear...

More images from the gig can be found at
Poison Creeper's Concert Attack page

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Drawing near

"SilverShoalsOfLight" Bluesanct Records update:

"We've had a bit of a longer wait than expected on this one, but it's
because we want it to be PERFECT... and it going to be so gorgeous, I
promise you!
Esp. in light of the passing of Matt Kinnison, this release must SHINE
brightly and resonate with everyone who sees and hears it.
We have the vinyl pressed: CHECK.
Colour front of sleeve: CHECK.
Letterpressed back of sleeve: soon.
Screenprinting of vinyl b-side: in progress.
The backside of the vinyl is a gorgeous half-toned photo of reeds
reflected in water... it's taken many different tests to get the image
half-tone correct. We've finally got a stunning test print, and are ready
to do the final printing of all the vinyl.
SO, thanks for sticking with us, and it will be worth the wait...
shouldn't be long before I have a price worked out, and then we can do
pre-sales to be sure you all get yours before they go bye-bye... I expect
it to sell quite quickly once released. SOON SOON SOON!"