Sndtrkr – Inglorious Debut

Sndtrkr - Inglorious Debut

Sndtrkr – Inglorious Debut

Portland, OR’s Sndtrkr (that’s Soundtracker minus vowels and the letter C) aren’t giving very much away, at least about themselves. Krist Krueger and Eli Savage and their other unnamed collaborators would seem to prefer that their music and visual productions did the talking on their behalf. I can reveal this much though: Sndtrkr is the latest installment in a continuing series of what are, so far as I can gauge, similar audiovisual projects, previous versions of which have gone under the titles of Southerly and Yardsss.

The format of these is one which many of you reading this are perhaps familiar with but there isn’t any denying that Sndtrkr now possess sufficient experience, and satisfaction with their most recent work, to bring their electronica-fused visions to an audience wider than that of the Portland circuit. Essentially, Inglorious Debut is a 30 minute or so accompaniment to a visual collage that includes footage of industrial scenes, wartime incidents, a tame chimpanzee, Italian horror films and clips from some sort of religious film in which an individual carrying a large box labelled “Sin” cannot enter through the also labelled “Door To Heaven”. The musical accompaniment to this is a verging upon mesmeric repetitive electronic soundscape of the kind that could keep you seated regardless of what’s on the screen, and not since the sleeve art of early 80s UK thrash punks Discharge has any group of musicians I’ve come across incorporated actual pictures of atrocities into their work, although it’s notable that these are all shown in monochrome. The color and filtered sections of the visuals are something easier on the eye, including the tame chimp plus some medical animations and swirling oil and water imagery.

It’s perhaps an interesting idea to look at where musicians such as Sndtrkr really derive their inspirations from. John Cage is referred to as a notable influence but I found myself recalling the theorizing of maverick French dramatist Antonin Artaud, who once said “If our life lacks a constant magic it is because we choose to observe our acts and lose ourselves in consideration of their imagined form and meaning, instead of being impelled by their force”, which I interpret as a finely tuned critique of his own and by extension any theatre/cinema audience. Artaud imagined a theatre in which its audience were themselves compelled to act, in reaction to the bombardment of light and sound which the audience of his “Theatre Of Cruelty” were subjected, and while Artaud himself didn’t live to see the technical advances which would have enabled him to put his theories into practice, musicians and film makers such as Sndtrkr are, consciously or otherwise, putting his words into action. It’s perhaps worth mentioning that Inglorious Debut‘ is a live recording.