A magic symbiosis of film and live music is how this year’s SPOT festival started.
By Annabella Stieren, Jutland Station
Miya looks through the glass at a white-bellied goldfish that is moving to the rhythm of electronic beats.
“I am taking this one to the club tonight!” she says looking at the rather puzzled worker of the fish shop with the friendly round face.
The small confident young lady just tested the effect of some crazy drugs on the fish that are supposed to make you dance. They do! Once the worker turns on the music the fish start to move and swirl around while Natsuko is watching them with her dark glistening eyes. As she leaves the shop she kisses the guy who looks disgusted, afraid and turned on at the same time. When they stop he coughs and spits out a tiny goldfish from his gorge.
“Not a French kiss, but a fish kiss,” Natsuko says.
The scene on the screen changes; we see the skyline of a big Japanese city, the music starts to get louder and the mysterious journey begins.
“DANCE! DANCE! DANCE!” is the name of the film concert performance by the Belgium electronica duo Arsenal, and this year’s kick-off at SPOT festival. Their mind-blowing performance is a symbiosis of film and live music, creating a new form of visual reality and soaking the audience into a story of love, loss and DANCING.
The three musicians on stage play the guitar, bass, keyboard and drum machine. For their first show in Denmark they are supported by the Danish artist Lydmor, who has worked with Arsenal before. It is complicated to define what they are actually doing: Is it a film with a background concert? Is it concert supported by the visual reality of the film?
It is hard to tell since the film is shown on a seen-through screen, the musicians behind it step into and out of focus, their shadows become part of the film, their music gives the story its drive. Two more screens with projections of Tokyo City create a three-dimensional backdrop, depending on the lights the layers are constantly changing. It is hard for the audience to tell where the music ends and the story of the Japanese actors start.
Arsenal’s member Hendrik Willemyns directed the film together with the Japanese Ken Ochiai. It tells the story of two young women, who fancy the same quite unapproachable musician Furu.
One of them is the beautiful, hedonistic Natsuko. She is looking for someone to spend the night with, while her friends are taking a trip through Tokyo, high on the pills she tested on the fish before. Natsuko gets kicked-out of a nightclub where Furu is DJing, but dancing is banned. She follows him home.
“This is the saddest apartment I have ever seen”, she says looking at all the moving boxes in his room.
The musicians from behind the screen pick up the atmosphere, getting slightly more melancholic and atmospheric. Their timing is always right, the emotions shown on the screen perfectly fit the electronic rock beats Arsenal is creating behind the it.
The melancholic soundtrack matches the story of Furu. On his way to fame he had to make sacrifices, he loses the second woman that fancies and loves him.n.
The pictures of his past are still haunting him. In the end he and Natsuko a are sharing a surreal visual experience supported by the impelling guitar sounds, high-energetic driving drum beats.
From time to time the story gets slightly confusing, challenging the audience to distinguish between reality and dream, hallucinations and facts. At the same time this is the power of DANCE! DANCE! DANCE! – creating a space between film and music, between reality and fictio
The film has funny moments as well, at least for the Danish audience.
“We love Denmark, jokes that never worked in Belgium suddenly made people laugh,” guitarist Bruno Fevery says after the concert.
– – – – – – –
Annabella Stieren is a German journalist based in Aarhus, and currently the culture editor for Jutland Station.