Reviews

Enter The Dragon with live score by Karsh Kale + MIDIval Punditz

MIDIval Punditz

Karsh Kale and MIDIval Punditz have achieved quite a coup in managing to rebuild the soundtrack to such an iconic film without trampling on its memory, but rather enhancing and complementing it.

Enter The Dragon with live score by Karsh Kale + MIDIval Punditz

City: Sydney, Australia
Venue: Cockle Bay
Date: 2009-01-16

Darling Harbour and its smaller cousin Cockle Bay have long counted amongst my least favourite places in Sydney. Full of the superclubs that sprung up in the late '90s and have hobbled on ever since, the area is the domain of the strappy-heeled glamazon princesses and roid-addled clubber lads. It is the kind of place I try to avoid. Only the promise of seeing a classic film like Enter The Dragon complete with live score could lure me down into these depths. I certainly wasn’t the only one, with what seemed like thousands braving one of the coldest summer nights on record to sit under a freeway overpass and stare at a giant screen that was floating on a barge in the middle of the bay. It was an impressive sight, with the lights of the south side of central business district twinkling on one side and the monorail emerging from behind the other side of the screen at regular intervals. Proceedings began with some remarkably average short films. I should probably try to be more encouraging and supportive, but I just can’t muster the good will. At best the films were mediocre, at worst diabolically numbing. At regular intervals a pointedly good-natured guy would pop up on-screen to advertise some internet thingy, and my irritation increased exponentially each time he reappeared. By the time the film started I’d seen his smug face so many times that I would gladly have rigged up an exploding external hard-drive to have been done with him for good. As the opening scene lit up the bay Karsh Kale and the MIDIval Punditz filled the floating stage beneath the screen. For the first quarter of an hour I wondered if John Cage had actually written the score, as no sounds were forthcoming. Then I noticed the accents and subtle instrumentation that were creeping in around the edges of the film, completely unobtrusively. I’ve seen films with a live score before, and almost invariably the music overwhelms the film completely. This was obviously going to be quite a different experience. It wasn’t until the first action sequence that the score really came into it’s own. Suddenly there was no dialogue to compete with, other than the odd Bruce Lee squawk, and the traditional North Indian instruments ramped up alongside the more familiar synthesizers and drum loops of modern electronic music. The timing of the piece was perfect, and the overall effect so impressive that the crowd was moved to rapturous applause and hollering as the scene concluded. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this performance was the group’s ability to meld the (very) old with the (almost) new, without ever coming across as trying too hard or being patronisingly orientalist. The music had a fresh, dynamic sound and, perhaps most importantly, the instruments sounded comfortable alongside one another, not at all competing for space in the mix. The score was versatile enough to provide comic relief where necessary, grinding into some sexy-time-porn-disco when Williams (played to the hilt by Jim Kelly, who went on to star in a slew of martial arts-themed Blaxploitation movies) is introduced to the female “entertainment.” Incidentally, Williams is responsible for one of the funniest moments in ‘70s cinema when he delivers the line “Bullshit, Mr Han, man!” without even a hint of irony. Enter The Dragon remains one of the seminal films of the 20th century, both for what it is and what was spawned in its wake. From Crouching Tiger to Family Guy, a great swathe of modern popular culture owes the film a remarkable debt. Karsh Kale and MIDIval Punditz have achieved quite a coup in managing to rebuild the soundtrack to such an iconic film without trampling on its memory, but rather enhancing and complementing it. It would probably be too much to hope that this project could culminate in a DVD release, but it certainly deserves one.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.

Music

Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."

Music

David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.

Music

On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.

Music

Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.

Music

Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.

Music

Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."

Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.