Tropical Fuck Storm, the latest project from Drones mainstays Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin, Erica Dunn from Mod Con/Harmony/Palm Springs and Lauren Hammel from High Tension, collaborated with promoters Hear My Eyes to present a live score to the Coen Brothers’ 2013 film No Country for Old Men this week.
TFS as a rock band incorporate many prominent aspects of the Drones – Liddiard’s singing and guitar style for example – but couch them in a seemingly more collaborative environment. There is more visibility from the other members, especially vocally and stylistically. They are more – forgive me – poppy sounding rather than grinding blues rock. It’s an extension of where the Drones were heading to in Feeling Kinda Free. There was a playful element that was often missing in the uber weightiness of the Drones assault, without sacrificing any of their aural power.
On Tuesday, night there was an expectation that we would hear some interesting sounds, but no feel for how they would approach their task. Before the film’s opening credits they warmed us up with a theme that was the basis for the night’s backing – surf-like distorted echoey guitar from Dunn, feedback squeals from Liddiard and throbbing bass and drums.
Once the movie rolled the pace changed. Much of the time the backing was spare, subtle even – words I would not have usually used for this group of musicians. It was appropriate and a stunning reminder of how important background music is to a film. The small sounds, scratches, twangs and moans from guitars and keys all add to the building tension, cascading into an explosion of noise during some of the many violent scenes.
Apart from those very obvious markers, it was measure of the concept’s success that much of the time it was easy to forget that TFS were even there at all. Their score enhanced the film and didn’t overtake it. They succeeded magnificently in creating a better film experience, trailing out over the final credits with a more recognisably rock piece that included vocal harmonies from Dunn and Kitschin.
The Hear My Eyes live score and film concept has been running for three years now has been performed at a dozen events but this was the largest and most popular with some screenings selling out the 900 seat Playhouse. at the Arts Centre, Melbourne.