When Greg Weeks, the leader of Philadelphia nu-folk combo Espers, was invited to present a "music to film" event at the city's International House, the film for which he chose to devise a new soundtrack was Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, a late-Sixties surreal coming-of-age fantasy by the Czech director Jaromil Jires. Bewitched by the movie's symbolist style and its intertwining of sexual, folkloric, religious and mystical themes, Weeks assembled a 10-piece band from Philadelphia's flourishing folk-rock scene to create this score, which was performed at the final night of this year's Meltdown Festival.
The tone is heady and psychedelic: one moment, the sinister multitracked recorders and percussion recall Sun Ra's quieter musings; the next, a blend of delicate harp-picking, cymbal swells and psychedelic guitar-noodling resembles some forgotten Krautrock artefact. Flutes flirt with celesta, strings swirl round jew's harp, and percussion holds it all together like myriad dabs of glue. The result is close to the scores by Popol Vuh for Werner Herzog films such as Heart of Glass and Aguirre, Wrath of God –mesmeric, mysterious and majestic.
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