the unrelenting sea, the darkness, and a need to search the depths.
an album and film that search the corners of the earth.
Boxhead Ensemble. The Last Place to Go.
Boxhead Ensemble, an impromptu project of the Chicago rock avantgarde, involved members of Tortoise, Gastr Del Sol, Eleventh Dream Day plus Jim O'Rourke and Ken Vandermark, all assembled by composer Michael Krassner to score the soundtrack for a film.
The resulting album, Dutch Harbor (Atavistic, 1997), was a collection of austere, erudite, low-key and bleak instrumental improvisations. They were more than vignettes of village life: they were miniature concertos of stunning sophistication.
The Introduction was high-caliber noir and chamber jazz set in an extremely sparse and desolate soundscape of agonizing notes and frustrated melodies. The eight-minute The Ravens, consisting in four guitars dueting with Vandermark's reeds at a funereal pace, moved that concept into abstract space. The ten-minute Ship Supply was structured in three parts: Vendermark's agonizing trumpet melody, a lengthy low haunting drone, and a melancholy tide of O'Rourke's and Krassner's guitars. (Michael Krassner writes: "The low drone you're hearing is Jim O'Rourke playing an acoustic guitar through a guitar amp. He was basically controlling the feedback an acoustic guitar generally makes when positioned close to an amplifier. He was also detuning his guitar during the drone creating interesting beating pulses in the feedback. When one note is sustained and another note or string is slightly being de-tuned, you can hear the overtones pulsating or beating against eachother").
Werner Herzog, "Encounters at the End of the World"
"It’s a burning curiosity in me. A desire to find images which have not been worn out yet. These images require a specific grammar of narration. "Encounters" is narrated in a way unlike any of my other films, since they have a more coherent story, but here it’s just amazement and wonder, plus the incredible warmth I feel for those extraordinary people down there."
"It’s best not to verbalise these things, but I know I’m very good at music. The music in "Encounters" is the best possible combination. And the music makes certain things visible and palpable in the images. You can’t really speak about it. Just look and listen, and you know it. I know how to do these things. It’s my profession."