Olivia Wyatt and Bitchin Bajas - Sailing a Sinking Sea

by Brian Lange. Rating:6 Release Date:2016-05-19

What starts out sounding a little bit like aquarium background music slowly progresses into more menacing, Mayan pre-decapitation ritual music. The silhouette of diver with nothing but a spear for prodding fish or other beast on the album cover is a good representation for what you might find thematically; the music feels soothing overall, aquatically inspired, but there’s something weird going on.

A lot of the tracks have vocals that come across as samples, unintelligible voices that seem under the influence or in distress. There seems to be a bit of a post-rock influence here, specifically the Set Fire to Flames project, which quite literally was recorded while the ensemble of Montreal musicians were under the influence and/or recording with little to no sleep.  It’s strange and creepy at times, annoying and overbearing at times.  Whether the artists had a well mapped out idea on their vocal intentions or not is hard to say.  Arbitrary as it may often be, it definitely sets up a sort of mood for the record.  It’s not all tropical island diving paradise, but rather something really weird happening just beneath the surface. 

This all starts to make more sense when one learns that this is actually a soundtrack to an experimental film by the filmmaker, Olivia Wyatt.  According to the film’s synopsis, the documentary sets out exploring the culture of the Moken people of Burma and Thailand, who are a seafaring community and one of the smallest ethnic minority groups in Asia, wholly reliant upon the sea.  Their entire belief system revolves around water.  The film promises to delve the viewer into the minds of shamans, become possessed through the worship of sea gods, dance between lovers and emerge drenched in Moken mythology. 

As is the case with many film scores, they are ideally designed to compliment the visuals in a film.  Putting this music into a purely audible form can, interestingly enough, detract from the music itself.  Unlike soundtracks, which tend to loosely group music based on genre, theme, or what is popular at the time into one “mix CD”, a score pulls you into a film and seamlessly integrates vision and audio into a combined experience that probably goes unnoticed by a majority of viewers. 

Though this record is intriguing, few film scores can stand alone on an equal or higher plane than the original medium.  They are meant to be experienced as one. 

A trailer for the film can be watched here.

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