Chairman of the Board
It was Saturday 30 April 2005. Milling around the Barbican foyer before the show were supermodel outlaws, junkie rock stars, tattooed Pretty Pollys, muscled surf mystics and office workers. No one quite knew what they had come to see (myself included – disguised as an office worker). Was it a Death in Vegas gig, a psychedelic surf movie or a mind altering arty happening? All I did know was the entertainment had been put together by impresario and ex Loaded journalist Rowan Chernin. The blurb said he had hand gathered, for one night only, musicians, filmmakers and artists and put them together in the brutalist concrete cauldron of the Barbican. And the key to unlock the evenings mystery – simply to take our seats and wait for the puppet master to press the button.
The music started quietly and slowly. Superimposed footage of waves began thread and twist their curving shapes in time with the rising sonic score. In front of this projected psychedelic liquid wall sat the Death in Vegas musicians. A cellist, violinists as well as the standard synths, drums, bass and guitars. Unusually each musician was simply a sharp edged silhouette in front of the brightly coloured swirling mass. Immediately it was clear this was no ordinary gig.
Flat-e, the projectionists, were superimposing multiple layers of waves – fading them in and out – looping and blending silvery shots from inside the barrel with turquoise tube shots from the nose of the board. They mixed ocean green underwater footage with blue sky long lens material. They then added the bubble distortion from a fish eye lens and cut with high impact close-ups. From this multi-layered superimposed footage a new narrative distinct from the original slowly began to emerge.
Classic Surf Movies
Mixed together in this way and put to an original score, new life and meaning leapt out of these classic 60’s and 70’s surf movies. Rather than standard tales of teenage troubles – the art and poetry of the film was revealed. Released were the emotions and passions that drive you to surf. The obsession for repetition and perfection The zen focus and commitment. An inner almost religious worship of the ocean.
The sound and music began to communicate how surfing is as much a state of mind as a physical activity. I began to imagine the coldness of the sea, the force and pressure of the waves, the roar of the white water. Then slowly rather than imagining it, I began to feel it. I could feel the acceleration as I rode the wave. The disorientating spin as I wiped out and scrambled my brains. I could hear the muffled bubbling as I was pulled underwater and starving for breath. That’s what was happening to me as I sat in the auditorium – I began believe I was surfing.
Dead Sea Scrolls
Days later the experience was still with me. I still wasn’t quite sure what I’d seen. I was hoping some footage would appear on youtube or for the audio to sneak out as a bootleg. Over the next weeks/months I kept an eye open but nothing appeared. Eventually I gave up and forgot about it – my evening as a surfer was a one-off like the event.
But that wasn’t to be. Earlier this year I googled DiV to find out that Richard Fearless had used the film score, added vocals and done some remix magic then released it in 2011 as Tran-Love Energies. This for me was like discovering the Dead Sea Scrolls. I couldn’t wait to find out if it was a good as I remembered. With great trepidation I span the disc. I sat there eager and confused. The sound raging from the speakers was illogical, terrifically intense and otherworldly. It quickly got inside my head on a supernatural level. I saw the finger pointing at me. I was surfing again.