Codes of Awakening is a collaborative project headed by Elijah Parker. The idea was to create an experimental short film in which the narrative is driven by the music.
A silent film, Codes of awakening unfolds through a series of vignettes. The music, composed by myself and engineered by Jason Torres, accompanies the vignettes which were each produced with different artists. The project was directed and edited by Elijah Parker.
Synopsis: Codes of Awakening follows the journey of a young girl and a hero in a futuristic dystopian society polluted by noise. Through his shamanistic journey into his own consciousness, the hero returns enlightened, to save his people and re-awaken them to the power and beauty of the natural world.
Scene 1: Noise
This scene explores the world of found sounds. With the use of heavily manipulated field recordings, I attempted to set a dark and erie tone for the Future City.
Scene 2: The Girl
This scene introduces the Girl character. It begins with a shot of her sleeping; tossing and turning in a dream. She awakes from sleep and walks down the hall way to see her father plugged in (literally) to the media center. The sight of this propels here into a nightmarish panic.
Throughout the film, the Girl is represented by a theme in the piano. In this particular scene, the sound of the piano melts away into an erie and other-worldly glob of electric sound.
Scene 3: The City
This scene is an expose of the Future City, and introduces the Hero. The Hero is represented by the theme heard in the Pad break in the second quarter of the piece. The piece builds in a dark electronic groove until it climaxes in an explosion, visually mirrored by the Hero removing his protective hearing mechanism, a gesture of defiance of society. Moments after, a metaphorical meteor strikes, sending the Hero into a dream of his own.
Scene 4: The Awakening
This is a brief vignette in which the Hero is transported through a psychedelic wormhole. I decided to use the genre of Drum and Bass to really set the mood of intense introspective transportation.
Scene 5: Wandering
This scene depicts the Hero wandering through a desert. He is lost and searching. To depict this, I decided to do a Dubstep style remix of the track Shiva Manas Puja, a prayer to Shiva from the album Sacred Chants of Shiva by Craig Pruess and the Singers of the Art of Living. “In the Hindu tradition, Shiva is responsible for change both in the form of death and destruction and in the positive sense of destroying the ego, the false identification with the form. This also includes the shedding of old habits and attachments.”(taken from here)
I enjoy the almost mournful tone that the vocals create, as in a point of realization that everything you have known and done has been misdirected. The Hero, having just “awoken”, still has few remnants of his past in the digital world, while at the same time, being pointed in the direction of the “Truth” of the natural world. I tried to represent this in the track, using more organic sounds and content, but still processed them heavily with digital effects.
Scene 5: Version II
As we did not want to use any samples or non-original material in the project, we made a version which borrows much of it’s content from the first version, but replaces the sanskrit prayer with throat singing performed by one of the collaborators Andreas Leonardsen. Due to the upcoming deadline for the project, we decided that we would have to cut some of the vignettes, so in order to keep the flow of the narrative, this piece needed to be more organic sounding than the previous verssion.
Scene 6: The Ritual
This scene depicts the Hero going through a shamanistic ritual. This is the most organic part of the film, representing the final leg of the hero’s journey to realign himself with the spiritual world. The music is accompanied by fire imagery. Elijah filmed performances of fire dancers and free/ecstatic dance to imbibe the feeling of a visceral, sacred, tribal ritual.
For the music I decided to go with some african influenced ostinato patterns in the marimba. This is accompanied with other tribal hand drums and shakers along with some erie bowed gong effects.
Scene 7: The Return
The final scene of the film represents the return of the Hero to the city to share his rediscovered knowledge and to liberate his people from their oppressive technological dystopia. In this scene, the Circuit Board City becomes overgrown with organic plant life while all of the characters are shown enacting their own personal awakenings.
To wrap up the film musically, I bring back the girl theme from scene 2 on the piano, only this time, fully realized in full orchestration.