New Internationalist

Sciopero (Strike)

Issue 374

Composing new soundtracks for existing films has become a vogue in recent years. Philip Glass writes elegantly framed chamber operas (La belle et la bête; Dracula); Asian Dub Foundation finds new drama in The Battle of Algiers; and Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin is torpedoed by the Pet Shop Boys’ lacklustre electronics. If you’re going to make a new soundtrack, you’d better have some ideas. Piedmont’s Yo Yo Mundi have plenty of ideas and it’s their riveting music that ensures that, in their hands at least, Eisenstein gets a more sympathetic treatment. Sciopero – in all its hanging harmonies, upbeat militancy and haunting accordion solos – is a supple and emotive soundtrack that is worthy of Enrico Morricone himself. Nevertheless, the Italian quintet didn’t choose an easy film. Strike, Eisenstein’s 1926 silent film, has a leaden plot: set in 1912, an innocent worker is driven to suicide by unjust accusations; his comrades strike for decent working conditions; the bosses, in league with crooks and the army, march against them; slaughter ensues. It’s easy to hear the passages of escalating tension: the band ratchets up the tempo; drums, guitars and voices chanting ‘Scioperi!’ press in on the attention. Like waiting for a cloudburst, the floating sound wafts until the band, dominated by its wonderfully melancholic accordion, takes up the tune again.

Louise Gray

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