You could say that Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are now living out theirdream. As far as chart success goes they may be past their best, butanyone who read Smash Hits in the late ’80s will know that Neil andChris hankered after a life behind the scenes.
While I only partiallybought this (their live shows are surely enough to prove that there’snothing they love more than hamming it up onstage) it’s an aspirationwhich can only serve to prolong their already extensive shelf life.
And indeed, a wise move. Thanks to the PSB’s integration of arthousewith their erudite pop sensibilities, it’s less surprising than itshould be that chart-topping eighties popsters are the choice composerof original music for Eisenstein’s classic film Battleship Potemkin.
The film, made in 1925, depicts the 1905 mutiny on the battleshipPotemkin and subsequent events which formed part of Russia’srevolution. Banned in Britain until 1954, it has since become ahighly-praised cult classic. It had its own score but apparentlyEisenstein hoped a new soundtrack would be written for each new decade.
So representing the noughties, we have the Tennant/Lowe interpretationof the film. Commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Arts, thesoundtrack premiered almost a year ago in Trafalgar Square accompaniedby the Dresden Sinfoniker.
While it’s hard to say from the soundtrack alone how well itcompliments the film, the music is certainly strong enough to stand upwithout visual aid. Many tracks see the traditionally lush Tennant/Lowesound stripped right back to simple, electronic motifs. Yes there is anorchestra present, but the influence of electronica is far moreprevalent throughout the soundtrack.
The opening bars of first track’Comrades!’ are reminiscent of Walter Carlos‘s interpretation ofOde to Joy on the Clockwork Orange soundtrack. Men and Maggots could beKraftwerk. Drama in the Harbour sounds like the theme tune to aneighties kids sci-fi series (the one I had particularly in mind was TheTripods but that’s a little obscure).
That said, this soundtrack is made by the same pair who did It’s a Sinand Go West and there are times when you can’t mistake the classic PSBsound, especially when Neil Tennant starts singing (Our Daily Bread, NoTime for Tears) or they start getting housey (Nyet, After All – c’monboys, this is the noughties not the ’80s!).
Unsurprisingly, being one who prefers Krautrock to disco, I muchpreferred the minimalist electronica approach to the pumping house,which makes this album something of a patchy affair. Pure PSB fans mayfind the same result, albeit for opposing reasons. I’m not convincedthe final product makes an enduring soundtrack to this film, but unlesssomeone makes another one for the 2010s, who’s to say what mighthappen?