GIZEH – 16th December 2016
Tabu, the film, was released in 2012 to a roundly positive critical reception (Rotten Tomatoes shows an accumulated score of 87%). The scale and scope of Christine Ott’s live soundtrack, which she’s toured as a cine-concert in mainland Europe are immense. Led by delicate piano pieces, Tabu is very much an album that’s dedicated to subtlety, to remaining in the background. This is very much the mark of a successful soundtrack: a well-considered and well-crafted soundtrack does not seek to take the foreground, but to provide an almost subliminal backdrop to the movement on screen.
I write as someone who grew up in the 80s – when soundtracks were a mix of classically big John Williams scores, and fairly lame generic electro / rock soundtracks headlined by a major theme tune performed by one of the headline acts of the day, often in the form of a power ballad. Think Starship’s ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us’ and Huey Lewis and the News’ ‘The Power of Love’. Equally, the Bond films of the period, with A-Ha and Duran Duran delivering the title track. I came of age in the 90s, the decade of the way-cool soundtrack. Imagine Trainspotting, The Crow or Natural Born Killers
With wibbly bass tones and tremulously mournful violins – and / or is there a theramin squealing an eastern-influnced arabesque in the mix? – Ott creates a haunting atmosphere on ‘Hitu, la Grande Montagne’, a piece which is evocative and moving even when removed from its cinematic context.
‘Sorrow – Lover’s Dance’ is the first of two long pieces, and while hushed and sparse for much of its eleven-minute duration it manages to incorporate myriad cultural elements, with Kyoto motifs and finger cymbals chiming in the distance, slowly forging an eerie, minimalist kind of krautrock, an insistent rhythm fading to the horizon.
Musically , it’s an exquisite work, and while it’s visually evocative, appreciation is in no way contingent on having seen the film.