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Date(s) - 13/11/2016

Triskel Christchurch


To call Borbetomagus ‘pioneers of aggressive improvised noise music’ is to do them a disservice. Since forming in upstate NY in the late 1970s, the saxophone/guitar trio has defied all perceived musical conventions, and their blistering, improvised live sets still have the power to raze 37 years after their inception. This is an uncompromising story about an uncompromising band.

“Their singularity of intent is palpable. The group drive furiously into the promise of freedom offered by improvised music to build their own unpredictable edifice. If there’s a lesson to be drawn, it’s that Borbetomagus’s focused, lateral expansion is an endlessly fertile plane in itself, regardless of the specifics of form. Mertens’s film deftly navigates this idea without ever being overly prescriptive or sentimental. By allowing the work and its ambiguities to stay firmly in the foreground, any conclusions about how to evaluate the music are left up to the audience. Borbetomagus have always thrived on precisely this physical and conceptual interaction. The questions are the answers and vice versa, like two bells locked together”. (Matt Krefting, the Wire).

A Pollock of Sound is the first-ever full feature documentary film on the legendary group Borbetomagus. With a current career spanning of 37 years, and still going, this explains a lot.

From 1979 on, Borbetomagus have persevered a ‘no holds barred’ musical style, described and boxed by the media so many times that they remain uncategorised. Coming together in upstate NY, far away from the burgeoning NYC scene, they began having a cult status reaching as far as Northeast Asia. With both saxophone players extending techniques beyond recognition and a guitar player utilising metal shards besides a plectrum, the band have showcased a whole new vocabulary staying true to the word ‘free’.

Guerilla filmmaker Jef Mertens brings the story previously only written in select underground media, as told by band members Don Dietrich, Donald Miller and Jim Sauter. Made on a low budget and with the help of many artists, writers, photographers and fellow filmmakers, the film exhibits a raw, urgent and unpolished vision on a band that has spent almost four decades defining and redefining their music.

The film features writer Byron Coley, drummer Chris Corsano, guitarist Thurston Moore, Japanese noise outfit Hijokaidan, Switzerland’s Voice Crack as well as a pontificating intro by Jason Gross. With never before seen archival footage, amazing photographic finds and even some never before released recordings, the film is a must-see, or must-listen if you will, for every Sorbetomagus fan or lover of music that has labored its own definition of what sound should be like.

Borbetomagus’ devastating attitude gained recognition without compromise and it’s without those compromises that A Pollock of Sound hopes to be striding along.

Director: Jef Mertens
Producer(s): Jef Mertens
Screenwriter(s): Jef Mertens
Main Cast: Byron Coley, Chris Corsano

Country: Belgium
Language(s): English
Colour: Black & White
Duration: 63 minutes

Tickets: €10.00 / €8.00 Concession