Socalled and David Krakauer perform new soundtrack for The Battleship Potemkin

Socalled and David Krakauer


New Sounds Live presents:

The Battleship Potemkin, New Soundtrack composed by Socalled and David Krakauer

February 20 & 21, 2008 at the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden

Whether collaborating with Wu Tang-affiliate Killah Priest or performing with bands like Beyond the Pale and the Aleph Project, producer/mc/performer Socalled (Josh Dolgin) continues to cook up genre-defying work.  Having mastered a myriad of musical forms and styles, Socalled crafts palimpsest-like productions through the prism of hip hop, klezmer, and dance music, exhibiting a sense of humor and respect for the forms from which he borrows that saves him from sounding kitschy or gimmicky.

Last year, Socalled and clarinet virtuoso David Krakauer journeyed to Odessa, Ukraine.  The city is the setting for Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 silent film, The Battleship Potemkin, a dramatized version of the 1905 uprising during which sailors took control of their ship and rebelled against Tsarist officers.  Socalled and Krakauer were inspired by their visit to compose a new score for the film, which was performed live with a five-piece ensemble during screenings on February 20 and 21.  The composition and the performance did not disappoint.

Socalled conducted the performance from behind his turntables and sampler, with which he provided the head-nodding foundation of the new score.  Adding accordion, piano, and even his own voice at various points, Socalled pumped out loops and break beats over which the other performers improvised.  Krakauer’s reputation is well-deserved and the interplay between his lithe yet doleful clarinet lines and the frenetic action on the screen was mesmerizing.  Likewise, Grammy Award-winning violinist Alicia Svigals’ contributions were equally compelling.

Throughout the film, the score continued to build tension, yet never quite exploded, even during the film’s most chaotic scenes. The highpoint of the performance arrived during the climactic Odessa steps sequence, during which Socalled sampled the sound of the shofar, juxtaposing it with shots of the Cossacks riding in.  This scene was incredibly evocative.

The audience was definitely feeling the new score and the ensemble received a standing ovation as the credits rolled.  According to the presenter, recordings of the performance will be posted on sponsor WNYC’s website in April. Definitely worth checking for.  Hopefully, this isn’t the last collaboration of this kind from Socalled and Krakauer.

– Ebin


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