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Tennant/Lowe: Battleship Potemkin
Tennant/Lowe: an ace [first] ‘original soudtrack’
Eisenstein hoped that ‘Battleship Potemkin’ - his classic 1925 silent film that describes the real-life mutiny of Russian sailors in 1905 - would get a new soundtrack each decade. He couldn’t have imagined that 80 years down the timeline there would be one by a British electro-pop duo but it certainly would have made him very, very pleased and proud.
Despite Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe using their names instead of their usual Pet Shop Boys moniker, it is the two pop maestros who have really stretched their creative wings by entering the world of the movie soundtracks. Collaborating with the Dresden Sinfoniker Orchestra [conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer/orchestrated by Torsten Rasch], this is an ace ‘original soundtrack’.
The pair's familiar and reassuringly dramatic brand of electronica remains more or less the same, save the odd quiet moment in which nothing but the hypnotic pulse of minimal drum machine percussion evokes the eerie tranquillity of life on the sea. There has always been something cinematic in PSB’s music and this time they’ve really reigned it in.
‘Drama in the Harbour’ is a mini-movie in itself, with jazzy trumpets, seething strings, choral drama and electronic menace that adds to the onscreen tension of mutiny turning into a massacre. Not all of it is instrumental and there are two proper songs: ‘No Time For Tears’ and ‘After All (The Odessa Staircase)’.
This music was originally premiered on 12 September 2004 in London’s Trafalgar Square and part of this recordings comes from it with some material originating from Berlin. Tennant and Lowe plan to present it live again in Germany and Russia this year and stage another ‘showing’ in the UK in 2006. And, it is well worth seeing it together with the visuals…
‘Battleship Potemkin’ music stands alone on its own and proves that PSB are one of the most intelligent artisans operating in Brit-music for the past 20 years. Not that it’s been widely appreciated and one feels that Tennant and Lowe have been greatly overlooked and underrated by the mass public.
But then, the majority of pop fans only care about the weekends…
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