New Internationalist

Sciopero (Strike)

December 2004

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

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 374 This column was published in the December 2004 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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