Be With Records` 100th LP release is Kenny Dickensen`s striking soundtrack to French-Vietnamese artist Mai Hua‘s 2020 film, Les Rivières. I’ve searched high and low for online clips and glimpses of the movie, hoping to get an angle on its narrative, and ideas that I can draw reference to. The only real information on the documentary, in English, though, is to be found actually on the Be With site – where the press “one sheet” features great quotes from both Kenny and Mai, concerning their collaborative process. However, taken out of its original context, removed from the images that it was intended to score, kinda blind as it were, just listening, this is what I hear…
A suite of shortish themes and cues, the music moves through many moods. From feelings of optimism, adventure, and starting anew – accompanied by children’s chatter and laughter – to moments of melancholy, and even menace, on Le Reve Noir, where tribal percussion and metallic screeching dissolves into a drift of drones, sampled surf, and spoken narration. The classy, classical, minimal arrangements, for piano, electronics, and cello, stopping off on the way for jolts of jollity – dancing, playfully on joints such as the Penguin Cafe Orchestra-esque Trilogie III (Phoenix Rouge) and Je Revive. Blossoming on the beautiful Pour Marthe. Bowed strings ache. Ivories tinkle, and ripple. Marimba, vibes, and music box chimes, the sound of steel tongues clicking against precisely placed wooden pegs, create counterpoint in hushed echoed atmospheres. On Regarde Maintenant, this poignancy is set to a thump like a racing heart, generating an air of anticipation. The same sense of anxious excitement that one might experience on a race to a station to eagerly greet a returning lover. The solely sonic experience, from beginning to close, totally capturing, and, clearly, stunningly cinematic in its own right.
Kenny Dickenson`s Les Rivières is out now, on Be With Records.
Since first posting this review, Mai very kindly got in touch, and you can find out a lot more about her wonderful, moving, film here.