Laura León – Doce Percepciones de un Silencio

Laura León, artist against a black background overlaid with projections.

Spanish filmmaker and musician Laura León presents “Doce Percepciones de un Silencio” (Phantom Limb, November 23), a collection of twelve film scores which act as the soundtrack to her 2018 film, “Percepciones de un Silencio”. Barcelona’s León utilizes the photographic style of Lomography, using symbolism and off-color imagery in the process, and the music on display is wildly different, too, thanks to an array of individualistic artistic impressions.

The music’s bright and eye-catching, its blurred, minute-long pulsations and luminescent orbs providing light and energy in spite of (or due to) its 100m sprint length. Phantom Limb’s own James Vella contributes a track –– a perception –– bringing an untainted innocence with its bright-blue melody, which utilises a digital emulator of the iconic Buchla Easel synthesizer. It’s a chance to see the world through another pair of eyes. Verónica Daniela Cerrotta’s spoken word refreshes the listening experience, embedding dialogue within the imagery, while a radio-rustling and a varying degree of sonic interference, along with a steady, thick-set and hovering drone, litters the background. Other tracks break up into a world of painful and ecstatic noise, recalling the messy assaults of Wolf Eyes or Shogun, while Wirephobia’s piece eerily switches things up by lying prone, waiting, and setting a trap within its murky surroundings. The next track’s sparse piano helps to dispel the cancerous fear, which was slowly spreading thanks to its creepy atmosphere. The collection jumps around; the entire soundtrack doesn’t and will never bend to normal expectations –– the same is true of its photographic style, which informs and colours the collection –– and the intentional lack of a standardised, accepted cohesion befriends the abstract, non-narrative imagery. That being said, doesn’t any image, whether through a conscious or subconscious process, whisper a story unique to one’s perceptions and interpretations? As one listens, a million different secrets unravel, making the music limitless.

The twelve compositions vary in wild degrees, ranging from upright classical to flexible experimental, with field recordings and ambient sounds spread across its globe. All are equally valid, representing unique and individual iterations of her film. Laura’s music is of the global kind, too. She collaborated with musicians from across the Mediterranean, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and South-East Asia, and while the film itself remains the same, unchanging, the musicians all offer different perceptions and interpretations based on a number of unique factors. The sound is permanently imprinted on film, and the soundtrack explores the ‘irremediable subordination that a sound exerts on an image’.

Some act as abstract art, while others appear to be more defined documents. Every track is the same length: a quick-fire snap, a one-minute flash. The music never feels like its rushing through the seconds, though, and its rapidity doesn’t affect the inner message, along with the outpouring of its emotions. Unity exists within the music, then, in spite of the dramatically different tracks that make up this collection, with both theme and length becoming common connectors.

Of course, each musician puts their own stamp on the music, but that doesn’t just happen: everyone’s background, as well as the journey, will be different, and any kind of response stems from their unique settings. Cultural, lingual, geographical, and environmental backgrounds all shape and inform the gathering of future music. Like a fingerprint, this impacts on the music, shaping it into a new image, sculpting a new sound from the clay of experience. They’re all differing perceptions, and they all illuminate what would otherwise be a singular dark room. The soundtrack graces digital formats at the end of November, along with a printed zine of essays and images relevant to the film.

Phantom Limb

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