Monday, 19 October 2020

The dream last night involved - again, as so often these days, my parents. I was in Paris and my mother was to fly back. Back to where I can't recall, since Paris is supposed to be where they live. My mother didn't realise it would be a long journey. The flight was in the evening. I spent time with them, yet managed to hop to the city for some appointments, whilst being there with them at the same time... That's only possible in dreams, I guess...
"I will be a long journey". I don't remember who said that. But I also felt that it might be the ultimate journey...

Perhaps I saw all of this in my dream because I watched Tarkovsky's Solaris yesterday, and also because I had a phone conversation with my father after the passing of his elder sister a few days ago.

It's not life meets imagination. They're both contained in one.   

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Music makes the people come together - in my dream

Dream in music last night. 

It started with a scene in Dennis' living room. His Pinoy friends were there and he wanted me to play the new arrangement I did of a Filippino song with his singing. I opened my computer and played the music, when I realised the singing was no longer his, but some very weird-sounding voice...

I returned to my room, and found myself in another building, from which I could see the interior of neighbouring flats. In one of them, my friend Thibault was proudly telling me that he had started taking cello lessons. He wanted to demonstrate, seized an instrument that only vaguely resembled a cello, and began to play a piece with just one hand! I beamed myself in his room, which was actually an office. The room suddenly turned into a big conference hall and there was a group of people dressed in white. They played a baroque piece, among them some musician friends like Benoît who plays the double bass. Suddenly I saw my mother among them and my father who played on two wooden recorders that looked more like toys. I knew he wasn't really playing, because I knew he couldn't play the flute! But he kept on joyfully with a twinkle in hie eyes. 

That was it. I woke up, but felt happy to have seen beloved people in this dream, making music together - in my dream.

The first time - and only time I met aunt Phi Lê was thirty years ago, when I went to Vietnam for the very first time. It was my birthday gift from my father and my uncle for my 20 years. 

Aunt Phi Lê lived in Saigon. She was one of my father's elder sister. I immediately felt comfortable with her. She was gentle, sensitive and very easy to talk, for the young Parisian born Vietnamese boy that I was. 

I would often find her in the kitchen and she was surprised to see that I was a natural in a kitchen - her sons weren't really the domestic type, to put it mildly. 

Her husband would sit all day long on a wicker chair near the house entrance, talk to everyone, comment on everything, and barely move from his spot, whilst drinking beer and smoking cigarette after cigarette.

I really admired her for her resilience. She came with me and my uncle when we all went to Huế to celebrate my grandmother's ninetieth birthday. It coincided with my being in Vietnam, so it was even more meaningful. I met hundreds of cousins, aunts and uncles, twice, thrice removed, friends of my father's, friend's of my uncles', friends of friends of the family...

But it was with aunt Phi Lê that I felt the most comfortable. I shall always remember her amused expression as I would share about my life in France, about how I lived it, what I thought... Even if it didn't make much sense to her, she would always be open and understanding. Perhaps it was a special treatment for the nephew from the foreign land. I don't know...

Then she more or less reluctantly went to the US, as the family had an opportunity for a 'better life' there, although I thought she would have been better off staying in Vietnam, with all her friends, relatives, all her life... 

I never saw her since. Only heard from her and got short greetings from her through my cousins. Then, Alzheimer struck a few years ago. Needless to describe how life was for her and her family, especially the two daughters who had to tirelessly take care of her. So much for the 'better life' in America...

The very last time I saw her was through a Facetime conversation between her and my father, when my parents came to Vietnam last year. It wasn't much of a conversation, but I thought saw a (not a pussycat).. a glimmer of joy in her eyes when my father talked to her. I took a picture of the moment, but I don't think I want to post it here.

My cousin just told me that aunt Phi Lê has left us. I can only feel relief for her, for everyone. I can't help thinking about my own mother. It's sad. But it's also a deliverance. 

She is now at peace and freed from earthly troubles. 

Sad and relieved.  

Monday, 12 October 2020

Displacement - Quarantine Hotel

DISPLACEMENT _ Quarantine Hotel: The full score for Jay's documentary is done!  The last piece, which will play for the final section of the film, was composed and recorded just earlier on this morning before I left for Jay's office. I had the illunination after watching Jóhann Jóhannsson's documentary The End of Summer yesterday night. It realised I didn't need to look any further as everything was already there in front of my eyes: those long and slow sonic landscapes of strings and synths that I would regularly record for so many projects could just be used alone to express this state of uncertainty we go through during this years' pandemic. I played it to Jay who immeditately loved it.   

We're still working on the editing, and the process is a very enjoyable one for me. There isn't much going on in terms of narrative. Jay's camera just follows Teresa Ma, the owner (and the film commissioner) and her staff going through long days of work after she decides to turn her hotel into quarantine hotel. As exciting as boiled cabbage... But somehow, combination of the slow, ambient score (some, featuring Goh Nakamura's atmospheric guitar from the Be Water sessions - rien ne se perd, tout se retrouve!) with the images gives an otherworldly impression. Jay welcomed my idea of setting up a near-science-fiction atmosphere with the music, as the current situation, if we think of it, is indeed very much one from a science fiction film. 

The film is taking shape now! I really enjoy doing the editing. CC, the hired editor - the third one, for this project, said that she on the contrary found editing a tedious process and was surprised to witness such enthusiasm from me. She also got the chance to see a more playful Jay at work...

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Rain in 2020

Lee Yong Chao's film will be the third documentary I work on this year - if one excludes the ill-fated Be Water, Yong Chao is a director whose work I have followed for many years. I got the chance to see three of them at the theatre, albeit at festivals, as such films seldom get any theatrical release.  Even with minimal means - sometime with just an iPhone, he never fails to capture beautiful, striking and meaingful images. It's in his eyes, in his blood. His photographic work is also stunning. Not only are the photos charged with depth and many stories, they also carry a melancholy tone I relate to.
Rain in 2020 focuses on his family in Myanmar during the rainy season this year, 2020 being what it is. Yong Chao follows his younger brother and his two lively sons. Through them, he reflects on the state of the country, the incompetence and false hopes of the government, and the life of hardship of Burmese people.

I won't have much time to compose the music - just one month, as Yong Chao wishes to send the film for submission to the Berlin Festival. "But even if you think it will be impossible to complete the score in time, I still want you to do the music for it", he added. He had just finalised two long-feature documentaries, the other being given to Thomas, who is his usual collaborator. Thomas was very happy I could finally work with Yong Chao. I was relieved their working partnership wasn't an exclusive one. 

I have already began writing and recording some musical sketches. One movement is even already finished. But as ideas for Yong Chao's film keep coming to me, I also have to complete the music for Jay's documentary, as the commissioner expects a first cut by mid-October...