July 18, 2005

John Cale: Praise for Process

John Cale

Process is the soundtrack of the month in Uncut magazine.

CS Leigh’s harrowing, unforgettable film Process would be beautifully troubling even without John Cale’s piano-based soundtrack, but Cale provides it with an extra set of claws. The movie’s about despair and suicide, basically. It’s stern, detached, but the combination of Leigh’s aesthetic, Beatrice Dalle’s career-subverting role and Cale’s (almost omnipresent) discordant keyboard renders it deeply affecting. Imagine the polar opposite of feelgood. Cale and Leigh found their collaboration so productive that they’re already working on two new films together - American Widow, and the Warhol/Factory story Everybody Had A Camera, which they’re co-writing. Cale enjoyed the “total freedom” Leigh granted him, to accompany “the most disturbing film”. And though he’s previously scored some mighty films, from early Warhols (Kiss, Eat) to Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild to Mary Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol and American Psycho, this could well be Cale’s most striking and chilling effort to date. Its sound landscape is extreme, resonant, and groundbreaking in a field where ground isn’t broken too often. There’s something jolie-laide about it. Arguably echoes of Nyman or Glass insist in the phases of repetition, but that’d be a glib comparison: they were rarely this sparse, naked. Leigh and Cale take no prisoners. You’re challenged, provoked, by the kind of piano notes that transform a room. Play this at home and you’re not at home. Wherever it’s taken you, you’re uneasy, anxious. The 13-minute “Suicide Theme” is emerging as a limited edition vinyl 10”, which is perverse (its anguish making possibly the least commercial record of all time). The spirit of The Velvets lives here, far more bloodily than in Reed’s recent pomp-strosities. One thing: the film’s credits roll with The Jam’s “That’s Entertainment” - a move so boldly ironic that audience members gasp at the gall. It would’ve worked to include that here, too. But then Cale‚s cold dark magic has its own purity. CR Uncut - Soundtrack of the month Jun 2005

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