Writing a film score is not an easy task for musicians and composers alike. It takes its own unique set of skills, with strict guidelines and limitations. The music must hide quietly in the background, and in an instant jump to the forefront and become the main point of interest. A soundtrack is both visible and invisible, it’s there and it’s not. For silent films, it must be the movie itself, essentially holding the film in its hands. This is a haunting subject for most who seek to create music, but Dumbsaint face this intimidating feat with every release.
Hailing from Syndey, Dumbsaint write and direct a movie to accompany each album that tells the story their instrumentals play out to be. They keep art at the center of their music and films, and they impress with both pursuits. Their newest release, Panorama, in ten pieces., brings forth a monster of an album, packed with dark, foreboding songs that can instantly hold you down. On the other hand, they give beautiful compositions with soft sounds and melodies. It is a soundtrack that can completely stand on its own without the movie, which is not an easy task for a film score.
RELEASE DATE: 07 August 2015 LABEL: Art As Catharsis
Unfortunately, the film has not been released at the time of this review, so there is a key part of the full picture missing. Below is a short quote on the details of the film taken from the band’s Bandcamp, and two short films for the songs “Cold Call” and “Communion”.
“Panorama, in ten pieces. is a suburban horror that tells the story of a residential street in darkness. Populated by a revolving ensemble of dysfunctional lovers, loners and shut-ins, the film peers in at the strange relationships and domestic rituals that go on behind the closed doors of one neighbourhood at night.”
The music itself comes from two completely different worlds; one side being their heavier aesthetic, the other being their dreamy ambient endeavors. This isn’t the first time these genres have clashed, but Dumbsaint do it better than most who have attempted to. At times it is chaotic and punishing, at others it is elegant and blissful. It makes the most of these two genres, but doesn’t solely stick within those parameters. “Barren Temples”, for example, has a jazz undertone coming forth through the drums, while “Long Dissolve / Temps Mort” has a definite post-rock progression, yet both songs excel at encompassing you with a warm, gentle ambience.
Panorama’s music is as complex as the story lets on to be, and the album is a tempest of different sounds and emotions. You’ll find yourself struck down by the force of “Cold Call”, and soon after you will be floating in the delicate air of “Graceland”. The album is full of enveloping territories that captivates the listener at every moment, never giving way to something expected or comfortable. The exceptional songwriting is what makes this band shine, as it is truly a new experience completely.
Go from listening to the technical, hectic opening of “Low Visions”. Besides its impeccable start to the album, the song stays heavy and disjointed, and it never lets go of that feeling. It’s an unrelenting beast of a track that really plays the way progressive metal songs should. Then without a hitch it transitions into the sludgy, muddled guitars on “Communion” which brings forth a much more emotional emphasis with it. This song is much more reserved and fine-tuned, more focused on building the tension than staying on the attack.
Panorama is as much a dedication to diversity and versatility as it is to the story it hopes to tell. The creative process it takes to write an album, accompanied with a self-released film is a testament to this band’s love for their craft. The dark, sinister corners of this album scrape at madness while the melodic, ethereal passages give way to brighter spirits. It casts a heavy shadow, leeching onto the fear of what might be, but is left unknown. It cautiously reminds you that you might not be safe when you walk down your street at night.