Pere Ubu score the 3-D screening of It Came From Outer Space, Royal Festival Hall, London, 10/9/2. Photo by Max Reeves.
Links: Pere Ubu and B movies from DenOfGeek • Interview in The Believer about Pere Ubu and Films.
A young astronomer sees a spaceship crashland in the Arizona desert. He tracks down the occupants who can adopt human appearance at will. The aliens just want to go home. The astronomer just wants people to believe him. So begins writer Ray Bradbury's Sci Fi classic It Came From Outer Space (US 1953 bw 3D Dir Jack Arnold Starring Richard Carlson, Barbara Rush, Charles Drake, Kathleen Hughes).
The legendary American rock band Pere Ubu performs its own score to this rare screening of the film in its original red/green anaglyphic stereoscopic 3D format. 3D glasses are provided. This print is thought to be the last complete, unfaded, working print in existence.
Using a parallel, synched soundtrack technique which removes most of the original musical score while preserving the dialog, a format conceived and produced by Reality Film's Marek Pytel, Pere Ubu generates a throbbing, dark and atmospheric replacement score which features additional dialog and voice-over narrative restored from Bradbury's 'lost' script treatments.
"We hope to underline and enhance what we feel is Bradbury's original intention," Pere Ubu's David Thomas said. "I grew up addicted to Saturday afternoon sci fi B-movies, and this one always stood apart because of the traces of his poetic and unique vision."
A unique experience itself, Pere Ubu emerged from the urban frontier of mid-70s Cleveland to impact the American underground for generations to follow. Led by David Thomas, whose innovative vocal style and rapturously eccentric lyrics have remained the band's creative focus throughout a long, convoluted career, Ubu's protean art-punk sound captured the angst and chaos of the times with both apocalyptic fervour and surprising humanity. With a unique mixture of control and anarchy, Pere Ubu changed the face of music.
"Pere Ubu's signature mix of driving rock and synthesized sound throbbed in and out. It was at its best at the start when the aliens landed. Then the powerful bass, insistent beat and eerie strains of a synthesizer, which conjured a foreboding, ominous edge throughtout the film, rose to an ear-splitting crescendo... Pere Ubu have created a sympathetic and subtle soundtrack which works with the film rather than stamping their distinctive mark on it." -- Lilly Peel, The Argus, 11/13/04.
"It works wonderfully well... The main the soundtrack focuses your attention in a way that allows you to enjoy the 1950s-kitsch shlock surface and also see beneath it. Director Jack Arnold composed 3D intelligently and the effects stand up - you're almost ducking as the hero scientist swings his telescope in your direction - but tonight's performance is more like X-ray vision. Ubu's prowling noise highlights the film's authentic desert feel, and the few startling moments when standard, stilted, expository B-movie dialogue gives way to Bradbury's strange, lyrical asides - such as that in which a linesman on a lonely highway comments on the humming in the telephone wires with eerie, working-stiff poetry. Built around repeatedly explored figures and from melodic bass throb, guitar scrape, intuitive drumming, onthe-spot dialogue samples and Theremin quivers, the soundtrack reaches an early, pulsing peak with a main theme accompanying the aliens' initial appearance, one that builds across the night into a monumental thing, a dark, drilling, interstellar-overdrive groove as intensely urgent as Ubu's Heart Of Darkness of 30 years ago." -- Damien Love, Sunday Herald, 10/14/04.
"They turned a B-movie into a series of menacing peaks and troughs and the overall art experiment was very much a success." -- The Scotsman, 11/10/04.
"Ubu's driving industrial rhythm are pulled back into moody atmospherics and primitive electronic squiggles." -- The Herald, 11/10/04.
"1950s cold war paranoia with the dark vision of Pere Ubu" -- The Guardian
"The audience placed its red and green 3D spex upon its collective nose, and ducked and dived as shards of rock and laser beams poured out of the screen. David Thomas, old daddy Ubu himself, added some witty touches to the dialogue. This live band/3D movie thing could catch on." -- The Evening Standard
"Pere Ubu have raised the standard for live soundtracks." -- Glenn Max, Musical Director Contemporary Culture, The South Bank, London.
October 9 2002, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London
March 5 2003, Experience Music Project, Seattle
November 7 2004, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
November 8 2004, The Arches, Glasgow
November 10 2004, The Dome, Brighton
November 11 2004, Arts Centre, Poole
November 12 2004, Colston Hall, Bristol
November 13 2004, Arts Centre, Warwick
Ad for the 3-D screening of It Came From Outer Space, Royal Festival Hall, London, 10/9/2.
Audience at the Seattle EMP performance. Photo by Robert Wheeler.