Sunday, February 6, 2011
"Cast Away the Poison, Throw Down The Dagger! Rejoice, Sister!": Music From Sergei Paradjanov's Ashik Kerib- Dzhavanshir Kuliyev (1988)
Here is something you won't find anywhere else, fellows and friends: The soundtrack to Sergei Paradjanov's sublime Soviet-Armenian film Ashik Kerib. An Azerbaijan folk tale of a minstrel's intense journey told in poetic imagery, the film is damn near chock-a-block and wall-to-wall with blistering lute workouts, Azerbaijani traditional and spiritual musics, mystifying juxtapositions, otherworldy atmospheres, the occasional electronic flourish, and generally brilliant sound design. Watching the movie, I found myself breaking into a cold sweat. It's not quite Paradjanov's best film (such an honor would go to Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors and/or Color of Pomegranates, although I would still venture to declare Ashik Kerib an unequivocal masterpiece), but here his always-beyond-genius use of imagery is augmented by Dzhavanshir Kuliyev's work on one of the best, most relentless soundtracks I've ever heard... so moving and powerfully otherworldly, I felt as though my brain was being penetrated by Colonel Kurtz's diamond bullet, an epiphanic moment of clarity betwixt beauty and horror.
As soon as the film ended I was on the computer hunting for the soundtrack, and came up empty-handed. As far as I know, no such artifact is available. So when I got the Paradjanov box set for Christmas (oh, what a gift it was- thanks Mom), I set to work extracting audio from the film and compiling a home-made soundtrack. Here it is. Please subject your brain to these pleasures.
Here is the soundtrack, the fruit of my humble looms. It is audio curated straight from the film, which is mostly music (the music of Dzhavanshir Kuliyev, with some songs sung by Alim Gasimov), but does include some dialogue/in-film singing and aspects of the film's excellent sound design. I feel it is sonically interesting even for those unfamiliar with the film. To reiterate: the music is insane.
If you've never seen the film, you very much should. You'd love it. If you've never seen any Paradjanov films, then I urge you to rush to reverse this. I promise you such wild depths of satisfaction and inspiration. Truly one of the most gifted, unique, and important masters of cinema, he is also one of the most obscure, especially today. Tarkovsky once said, "We are guilty of not thinking of him daily and of failing to discover the significance of a master." To view his films is to find a missing link in the history of film, an enigmatic singularity whose influence is felt all over, but whose voice has never been even nearly reproduced or equalled. After viewing a Paradjanov joint, such a magnificent visual stylist and viscerally spiritual filmmaker as Alejandro Jodorowski begins to ring somehow hollower than before (not to be needlessly didactic), in comparison to Paradjanov's hallucinatory visual realm, which is based on, but not slavish to, esoteric rituals of real peoples; using cultural traditions and truths as a poetic kaleidoscope through which to experience passionate, humanist, mystical surrealism.
from wiki: Critic Alexei Korotyukov remarked: "Paradjanov made films not about how things are, but how they would have been had he been God."
Mikhail Vartanov wrote in 1969 that "...Besides the film language suggested by Griffith and Eisenstein, the world cinema has not discovered anything revolutionarily new until The Color of Pomegranates ...".
Get familiar with Mr. Sergei Paradjanov, dear friends.
For those of you with an interest: I have an unedited file of the film's complete audio. The whole thing plays as an extended, layered sound collage, with even the dialogue being mostly sung or musically delivered, so if you're hungry for a bite this big, then I offer it to you. Let me know if you want that, or I might not bother.