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Dominic Peter Hatton
I have to approach ‘Beneath The Snow – Piovono Ombre’ with some caution. The initial anxiety of expectation rises and all sorts thoughts enter my head. Firstly, what exactly is it? It’s a film? It’s a musical project? A media project? An Art project? It is easily all those things, and not so easy to separate them. So presents the daunting task of digesting a very large meal… There are 20 courses, you say? I’m not sure I have the appetite :(There is a tremendous ambition and effort on display here, and all these roads lead to this. I started to think of ‘Beneath The Snow’ as a museum, theatre, gallery or art house piece. A place where you are taken into view fragments of film, art and all interconnected with a creepy soundtrack. For all convenience - everything is easily distributed in a DVD package, but I can imagine a better environment to experience this strange beast. In a gallery, with projections and corridors which will make people choose where to go next. To choose their fate. As soon as I thought in these terms, the experience of ‘Beneath The Snow’ began to take shape. The locations used in the film portion are excellent. Not only are they beautiful, they help to separate the different portions of the film. The rooftop cafe/bar, the snowy woodlands, the creepy house, the over exposed night. Each location help give the film identity. Some striking images throughout also help: the running/dying man in the snow, the disjointed POV in the house. Chaotic and desperate. The POV helps put you in the character’s shoes too. Given the affection for old-school horror, the style here has been applied with care, and not for sentimental reasons.Fragments or narrative and characters and scenes draw you into a really strange underworld, the avant-garde. Yet there is always an underpinning with the presence of the main character. There artworks on display throughout offer some context, and perhaps subtext too. You are always brought in- and out- of some narrative underpinning. Like coming in and out of conscience. Like how parts of your dreams always feel real. Last night, I was sure, 100% sure Democratic Senator for Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, baked me cookies… But did she? Only by waking up would I know the answer. By waking up, I was sure to disappoint myself. The music is strong throughout. Sometimes it serves well as a soundtrack, and other times it takes the lead. Production and performance is strong, however it is probably a different experience separated from the body of work. The whole experience is somewhat surreal and anxious. The experience is not dependent on a single element, rather all elements contribute to an immersive narrative. Horror is present, but only for the sake of atmosphere. You have expertly and dutifully let our own sick minds fill in the gaps. And we have sick minds. Each different element, film, music or artwork offers a fragment and those who pay attention should easily fit together all the pieces. However, by making them choose, make a decision through the narrative changes that experience. I often lack the brain-power to take on such ambitious projects. I downloaded Aleksei German’s film ‘Hard to Be a God’ and it sat on my MAC for a month before I had the courage to watch it. I have yet to crack open the rest of Béla Tarr’s catalogue. And Alexander Sokurov’s films. And Herzog’s body of work. Even before watching these films, I have a mountain to climb. It is no easy task digesting a huge meal like this. Only after I have tasted the hors d'oeuvre do I realise that I will enjoy this meal.Uneasy watching, not for the light-hearted. Subtitling and translation is excellent. The booklet is an important addition, as without it - is like having a jigsaw without the picture. On a wider scope, I think I am starting the understand your own mindset, Max. Your vision, contemplation and point of view. Your anxiety over how ‘Beneath The Snow’ is presented. Because under ideal conditions it’s challenging and rewarding experience. The ‘casual’ viewer may not get what you intend under not-so-ideal conditions… There is a very narrow margin for success. It’s not pure cinema, pure art or music. Most people are oblivious to where all three mediums cross paths. I understand now. Your work should be curated personally. It should be presented in a gallery, with artwork, screenings and music throughout. Immerse people in that environment. Although I have had unlimited primary access to this work, I still have to unravel it. And like a restless cat, I will unravel this thing…I really liked the vocal performance on ‘Arcano Arcaico.’ I like the simplicity of the visuals: driving at night, the hand gestures. Simple images express such important emotions. For example: holding hands. Acceptance, communion. It makes me wonder whether you cut the film to the music, or compose to the film. The music takes some good tonal shifts. Very well composed. Reminds me of Skinny Pups.‘Sons of a Sun without Light’ has a much different feel. So much more direct. It feels much more complete and fully formed. There’s a but more fury in the one. The drumming is great. Structurally both songs are pretty progressive. Visually too - those Italian streets at night look amazing. More importantly, they are tonally different to Arcano Arcaico - these scenes feel different - even though they are part of the same suite.I’d say right now I prefer ‘Sons of a Sun without Light’ because it feels more rigidly constructed and composed. A bit more adventurous. And of course, amazing artworks from David.
Dominic Peter Hatton (UK)