If you follow our social media accounts you'll know we are spending this weekend amongst audio greats at Podcast Movement. First time visiting this particular conference, and already excited for the next one. Yes, they have it set.

This kicks off a couple busy weeks as we are continuing to put out The White Whale every Sunday, have some work for other shows in the mix and are playing participant to the 24-hour Radio Race from KCRW next weekend. Yes, we have asked ourselves what we are doing. Too fun to take that reality check. 

If you are new to our podcast as of #PM15 please take a listen in whatever order you please. First season is chronological, but as conversation of the records and films speaks to listening and watching in whatever order you please we have designed each episode to be part of a larger whole that can be heard unto itself.

Cheers to all following and participating in this crazy business. We are having fun. If looking for us tonight we will probably be mixing some radio somewhere in the ether. Feel free to steal attention. 

Semblance, Reproduction, and Simulation: On Garrett Tiedemann's KliKt

It's Christmas day and here at CyNar we are thankful to the many who have kept this whole experiment going over the years. Two significant figures being John Barner and Doug Julien who have watched, debated, and written the text. Keeping our promise of re-releasing these materials written in response to KliKt is a thoughtfully rich engagement with the experience of watching (embedded in a photograph - so click the image to read the text).

It's this sort of dialogue we always aim to incite and looking back it's a wonder what this film accomplished. 

Cheers to you all in your celebrations and thank you for the continued support with your eyes and ears wide open.

Semblance, Reproduction, and Simulation: On Garrett Tiedemann's KliKt

by Douglas E. Julien & John Barner

(Click image for article.)

A Thousand Words on Composing the Score to KliKt

The following is what John Barner wrote about completing the score to KliKt.

A Thousand Words on Composing the Score to KliKt
by John Barner

It is a rare thing to sit and write about composing a score. Rarer still is to do so without some recourse either to describing the recording process or the style of the film itself. The latter is, in the case of Klikt, the easier of the two, and can be dispensed with most economically. Klikt is, to me anyway, a film firmly ensconced in a cinematic legacy that has close ties to the earliest exponents of absurdist or Surrealist cinema, such as Dulac and Artaud’s La Coquille et le clergyman (1928) and Buñuel and Dalí’s Un chien andalou (1929), and the more recent “budget” tradition of supernatural thriller and early horror genre films of the 1950’s (the work of Ed Wood easily being the most recognizable—and critically lauded—of these). But to engage in these kind of comparisons is ultimately a limiting exercise, as KliKt also strikes me as having strong stylistic ties to the early films of Morris Engel, juxtaposing its absurdist anachronisms with a quotidian “realism,” i.e., “real time.” Again, any viewer wishing to peg down just where KliKt is coming from stylistically through adding this comparison to an already heady mix may find themselves just as stymied as one who would dismiss it out of hand as simply an absurdist homage or Surrealist-inspired film experiment. My own sense of unease with the all-too-easy labeling of KliKt’s style is precisely what led me to develop a unique recording process in scoring the film, which requires a bit of explanation.

I had seen an early short film version of KliKt prior the score being commissioned, and knew it to be a silent film, albeit a noisy silent film. The diagetic sounds that dominate the film, that act almost as characters-in-themselves, are constantly bombarding the audience, especially the omnipresent sound of a whirring fan, doors slamming and opening, the lazy mechanical din of a contemporary scanner/printer, and, most of all, the sound of the archaic manual typewriter that acts as the protagonist’s companion/adversary throughout the film. In considering recording music for KliKt, I knew that I would, much like the film’s protagonist, have to wrestle with these noisy intrusions, to strike a balance with them in producing a score that built and applied dramatic tension, engaged directly with the action on the screen, and operated equally as foreground and background. This last common duty of non-diagetic music proved especially difficult in composing the score for KliKt. In the full-length version of the film, the act of repetition constantly shifts audience attentions—the tension is always being applied somewhere different in each of the successive “days” of the film, although it would seem as if “nothing is happening” internally to suggest such a narrative advance. Producing music that would have to simultaneously appear not to be moving the action of the film along, but rather “freezing” each moment to allow the viewer to catch what was different this time around required an eschewing of some common elements of recorded music. Melodies, for example, needed to be slight, and rhythms had to capture the repetitiveness of the action, and not run counter to highly repetitive diagetic sound cues (like the typewriter). Screening a rough cut of the film, I immediately instituted three simple (though a little startling, at the time) “rules” that would govern the recording process. The first was that the music would be entirely electronic, with sampling of live instruments. The second was that the samples needed to be rhythmic, rather than melodic. Finally, samples could not be more than ten seconds in length, to ensure that the music would mirror the mechanical nature of the diagetic sounds heard in the film.

I had been experimenting for some time with creating a series of themes using only Nord Lead and (in at least one instance) Fairlight synthesizer tones recorded at variable lengths and layered, one atop the other, either backwards or forwards, and then married to live instrument samples recorded especially for the film (of piano, cello, clarinet, banjo, and, as heard in the trailer for the full length film, the internal sounds of an antique grandfather clock) to provide a rhythmic accompaniment. The result diminished the more characteristic sounds of the synthesizers while retaining the overall tonal quality, making the loops less beholden to the “glitch” inherent in much of contemporary looped electronic music (such as dance music or hip hop). In the final version of KliKt, these themes were further edited into the film by the director, Garrett Tiedemann, shifting their entrance and exit, with each of the successive “days” or perspectival shifts. Again, repetition of key ebbs and flows were crucial to advancement of the narrative. This is in marked difference to a film with a simplistic narrative through-line, wherein the music would begin or end concomitant to a particular moment or “cue” in the action. Given the subtlety of the action in KliKt, and the inherent variance in the presence or absence of such cues from one “day” to the next, the overarching mood to the score was one of lurking, or lying-in-wait. A traditional dénouement common to the thriller is a noisy one, and KliKt here is no exception, so the music is less about emphasizing that the door has been slammed, but, rather, accentuating the length of time spent considering when that
slam will happen.

To conclude, I think it is safe to say that KliKt is a difficult film. It requires considerable attention on the part of the viewer and consistently raises the level of complexity both in terms of what is seen and how one interprets what one sees. From the position of composer, it is my sincere hope that I have not only aided and abetted the stylistic choices on the part of the director and those involved with the film’s production, but also offered, through music, a helping hand to the audience on their journey to understanding.


KliKt Reconsidering

...a more challenging and forward-looking example of current cinema...a strong and distinctive work...
— Festival Programmer

It's been a few years since the experiment KliKt was completed. After a long journey through a couple iterations it came out and disappeared online just as quickly. Always past and future place rather than present, it's yet to really find it's audience.

Originally shot as a short silent film, it lived that way for a long time. After Trickery Mimicry was made and had it's run through festivals there was a question of what next. 

It's unclear how the original footage of KliKt came to be re-watched, but at some point it happened. And with the clarity of Trickery Mimicry pushing it along, a new film was born from the ashes of the past. Something with more depth, richness of detail, and clarity of consideration.

Watching Camden Toy is revelatory. A one of a kind actor whose provided two uniquely brilliant characters for CyNar. It's difficult not to watch him; consider the thoughts he so wears on his sleeve without words or common tools of communication. It was impossible to not provide KliKt another opportunity. Impossible not to dive deeper down the rabbit-hole of a story so evasive and overwhelming.

It's a silent film by motivation, but not execution. With John R. Barner's brilliant score as the backbone and additional characters - as well as inanimate objects given focus as characters - providing surrounding motivations, KliKt became a portal to another universe. A vision of reality not so distant from our own, but just far enough to be unclear. 

I wish I knew, in one way, what to say, because part of the work’s strength it seems to me is a certain resistance to interpretation. I mean, sure, it’s lucid, and its narrative can be extracted, but more even than many - most? - movies, you seem to be trafficking in a certain spot where there’s no other way to say it. Like Lynch, or (one of my favorite films) Polanski circa Repulsion: it’s not so much ‘dream-like’ as a kind of pure land (mind?) scape.
— Matthew Specktor


At the time of release there were those who followed what it was attempting to accomplish. People like Lily Emeralde and Emma Dyllan from Phosphorescence Magazine and Matthew Specktor who wrote wonderful thoughts and considerations that presented KliKt as something to be discovered.

There were also many supporters like Kathy McTavish who responded to the film with their own creative works as review of the experience. Offering reconsiderations entwined with the original considerations themselves.

For a time there was a place where all this material was located, but it's not really available anymore. And it should be. The film itself and the energy it instigated should be presented some way for people to find. So, we're collecting these things here. Maybe it will incite a revisiting. Maybe the life KliKt has yet to have can be found. The next couple posts will be responses to the film as written by others either involved in the creative act, like John Barner, or those who were on the front lines witnessing the development. 

It's a chronicle of sorts. Value judgments of something before it reached any sort of conclusion. But, before you understand where all that is coming from, you should really just watch the movie.