Score Smash 

Films Get Live Scores at DeComposer

by Chas Bowie

DeComposer dir. Various

Opens Sat Jan 24

Guild Theater

Many years ago, in a fit of dippy brilliance, some stoner figured that if you put on Dark Side of the Moon while Wizard of Oz is on, crazy, hypnotic things happen in your brain, and dorm-room smoke-outs haven't been the same since. This concept has been exploded and reassembled by Vanessa Renwick and the Oregon Department of Kick Ass, who are presenting the second-ever DeComposer film and music series this weekend at the Guild Theater. Haunting and absurd film/music juxtapositions collide when West Coast musicians perform live scores for anonymous and archival films that have been rescued from vaults and flea markets.

The films range from the sublime to the absurd, from the proletariat to the prancing pony. Hans Grusels Kranken Kabinet, a "dada electronics and German fairytale re-enactment troupe" will score two films--Master Hands, an Industrial Revolution tome, and Day and Night, a bizarre, lo-tech tale. A single camera pans over fun-house paintings to create a form of pre-animation until a fog machine, spinning globe, and a Lite-Brite starry night come into play. It's a completely weird movie whose narrative is nearly impossible to assemble into a cohesive whole.

Johnne Eschleman, aka The Distance Formula, will be on hand to perform his desolate soundtrack of creaking doors, feedback, and lonely organ to Britton, South Dakota by Vanessa Renwick. The haunting film was shot by an anonymous badland's answer to August Sander, unflinchingly showing dozens and dozens of steel-eyed children in front of a post-Depression storefront. The children, steadied and fussed over by adult hands, are probably dead today, but even in their overalls and Sunday dresses, already look older than dirt. The evening's highlight will undoubtedly come from The Red Stallion's Revenge, scored by Sandman, the Rappin' Cowboy. It's an old-timey country tale of revenge and death, the frontier, and most importantly: an epic grudge match between a pony and a grizzly bear! In an unbelievable sequence of violent choreography, the two beasts duke it out in the woods.

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