Perspectives on Pop Culture and the Arts

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Short Film for Massive Attack's "Saturday Come Slow"

Just wanted to remind everyone that Massive Attack's new album, Heligoland, is out and it is fantastic. Really, it is a great piece of work, though some reviewers have been less enthusiastic about it, pining away for the glory days of Mezzanine and Protection. Hypnotic, mysterious, brooding, groovy and every other adjective you wish of a Massive Attack album. Not as dark and menacing as Mezzanine, but smoother, with some sounds that remind me of Portishead's Third (which makes sense since Adrien Utley contributes on Heligoland). Like Third, Heligoland has less trip hop, though "Splitting the Atom" channels that pretty well, I think. So some "die-hard" fans might seem grumpy; I guess that is the problem with some alleged die-hard fan, they want them to just keep churning out the same disc rather than move around, expand and explore. For me, I'm more often very excited to hear a band move in new directions and try new things, even if that means they come up a bit short sometimes. But I don't think Heligoland came up short at all. For me, the album is just fabulous.

Anyway, what I would also like to draw your attention to is the great short film by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin for their song "Saturday Come Slow". It features former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Ruhal Ahmed, who was interrogated using music at painfully high volume. Ahmed reflects on his experience in Gitmo and on his reintegration into society. The effects on the body due to high volume music are also discussed. All combined it is a fascinating short that contributes nicely to the discussion of torture and harsh interrogation that has already been addressed by good films like Standard Operating Procedure and Taxi to the Dark Side.

I have been wondering how music artists feel about their music being used in harsh interrogation and torture. I doubt the military bothered to ask them if it was okay to use their stuff. Guess they just assumed that everyone would be on board with their patriotic efforts to protect freedom. Maybe that's too snarky of me to say. But I doubt the military thought about it much since some troops in Iraq also got pumped up for the day by cranking Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", like Kilgore's boys in Apocalypse Now (Did anyone tell the military that Kilgore wasn't the character to emulate in that film?). After spending some time studying harsh interrogation and torture, I find little that's noble or patriotic about what has gone on in Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere.

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