Last Saturday I attended Split/Signal, an event of silent films scored live. The venue was The Center for the Arts at the Armory, a recently created art space in a former armory on Highland Ave in Somerville. It was my first time visiting the Armory and I think they did a good job with the huge space. I liked the light pouring from the windows, but it was not such a good thing for the 7pm starting time as light found its way on the projection screen…
The musicians participating in the event composed original music for the silent shorts and overall the result was very good. There was also free snacks, beer and wine. The servers went around dressed as cigarette girls, carrying the glasses in trays. After trying to block the sun coming in from the high window, the event was off to a good start.
The first short film was by Jon Cianfrani and the score was done by the duo Mike Dunkley & Todd Brozman; the used their laptops to provide the electronic music score, and it was very good. Then it was time for Black Yodel’s music and Michael Maraden’s short. I liked the compact music. After that we saw Dado Ramadani’s short with ambient mostly music played by Arms & Sleepers, and right after that Devil Music provided the soundtrack for an animated Barrett Films short. Caspian was much better than I thought they would be and I liked Bryan Deblasio’s film. Roger Miller (of the Mission of Burma) composed a very fitting score for Handcranked Productions short full of scenes of american ruins; I really liked it, both visually and acoustically. The next band on was Cul De Sac with music for VJ Dziga’s film. The event ended with music by the Books and film by Rich Remsberg. They played a longer set than the others, and they were good too.
I read some complaints about the time forthe change of set up that the bands needed between acts, but I didn’t find it excessive. It gave you some time to seek more wine or beer, or go to the loo and receive compliments for the dress you were wearing (btw I liked the nice touch of mints in the women’s bathroom), or talk about the previous act, or walk around.
I was pleasantly surprised with the superb quality of sound. And I found the event to be well produced and it was something different. It’s not too common, I think, to see “silent films scored live” these days, and I totally appreciate the idea and the implementation. I was really happy I attended. I hope the Armory hosts more cool events like this, and Split / Signal put together their next project pretty soon.
UPDATE: See more photos here