Alex Smoke on Faust

Our residencies in Inverness and Dundee this month see the Ensemble getting out and about and trying a whole range of  new things. One of the more unusual events in the residencies will be screenings of F. W.  Murnau’s 1926 film Faust at Dundee Contemporary Arts on Thursday 18 October and Eden Court Cinema on Friday 26 October. A quintet of musicians from the Scottish Ensemble will be performing alongside electronic producer Alex Smoke, who was commissioned by Glasgow Film Festival in 2011 to create a new score for the film for strings and electronics.

 Alex Smoke on Faust

DJ Alex Smoke in cafe

Alex Smoke

“The project was conceived as a chance to write a full score for a film which I love, and which covers a subject I find fascinating, namely the story of Faust. We are living in a Faustian age, where the deals we are doing might lead at any time to our own destruction, so I think this story resonates with us more than ever, and Murnau’s film is the finest rendering in my opinion.

I decided on writing for string quintet as I find strings the most expressive instruments to write for and, being a cellist myself, I understand the mechanics best. The electronic element is equally important however, as it provides much of the atmosphere and texture and is fantastic for weaving in the added layers of meaning that I like to incorporate in the music, if only for my own sake.

The sound design incorporates a multitude of references to various Faustian pacts of our times, such as Blair addressing the Chilcot Inquiry, Aleister Crowley chanting incantations, factories producing weapons and computers, and nuclear launch codes.

I’d originally thought that performing the piece live with the film would be impossible due to the complexities of timing all the elements, but fortunately the Scottish Ensemble are braver (and dafter) than I had expected so I’m delighted it’s going to be experienced in a way much more true to the silent film roots from which it comes.”

Watch a clip of Alex’s score

Book your tickets now for these screenings now by visiting the Scottish Ensemble website

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