Barcelona in 48 Hours
has been a multimedia celebration of film, dance, photography, and music in its various incarnations over the past couple of years, and one of the pieces of fallout is this soundtrack CD from the short film of the same name. The film, produced and directed by Anja Hitzenberger and Edward Ratliff, consists almost entirely of black-and-white still photographs shot in a two-day span in the Spanish city; it's about improvising dancer David Zambrano. The stage show came to life in New York City, Ratliff's home base, with a combination of live music, video, dance, and yes, those photos again.
All that should serve as some notice that you're only going to get a whiff of the action from the music in isolation (not everyone lives in the City or made it to a screening). But what a whiff this is: fetching, globe-trotting, and insatiably romantic, a record that entrances within seconds, begs you to get involved, and ages with grace. The centerpiece is the nuevo tango-ized "Barcelona" theme, which appears four times interspersed with different instrumentationa baritone sax/violin/bass/drums/trombone quintet, an accordion/bass duo, a trombone-less quartet, and an accordion solo. Not the typical lineups, that's for sure, but this is not your typical record.
Listen to Ratliff's two and a half minute music box solo on celeste on "Glass," which has a naive, childlike aura. The overtly dramatic "Barcelona" duo that follows plays Charlie Giordano's Old World accordion against perky, syncopated bass counterpoint by John Hebert. Ratliff's own appearance on accordion follows later with "Estacio de Franca," a swirling mist of minor melodies and held chords that plays out very gradually and deliberately over spirited dumbek (Middle Eastern goblet hand drum) accompaniment by Seido Salifoski. Electronics make an appearance on two Ratliff duets, the robotic, jungle-ish "BCN" and the very brief, hypnotic "Mies," with programming by Chris Kelly (who, together with fellow Good and Evil teammate Danny Blume, engineered and mixed the record).
Barcelona in 48 Hours unfurls like the soundtrack it is, a series of nostalgic, panoramic, vignette-like episodes. The mixture of styles and instruments is unconventional to say the least, and Ratliff's compositions have a persistently magnetic quality. Not unlike the city itself, which is situated in its own collision of cultures and styles.
Note: Strudelmedia has an excellent web site where you can listen to sound samples, view stills from the film, and watch or listen to the Dance Theater Workshop presentation .