GFF 2012: Cry Parrot presents Umberto
Last summer, Fielding Hope of Glasgow-based DIY promoters Cry Parrot found himself discussing horror film music with instrumentalist Umberto, over from Kansas City for a sold-out show at the 13th Note. Umberto, real name Matt Hill, is something of an aficionado: both his albums to date, From the Grave and Prophecy of the Dark Widow, slice up and cannibalise the synth-heavy soundtrack stylings of niche icons like Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento, to electrifyingly creepy effect. “For some of Umberto's performances in the States he would use cut-up footage of vintage horror flicks,” says Hope, “but when he told me he hadn't actually composed any specific film soundtrack before, I asked him what his feelings were on doing something as part of the Glasgow Music and Film Festival… Personally I think he's got lots of potential doing this sort of thing.”
From there, plans were made to bring the 'don of the dread' back to Glasgow for a very special performance: a newly-composed score for a secret film of his choice, to take place in a no-doubt fog-filled SWG3 (the 13th Note show was apparently “a little damaging on everybody’s lungs, what with the amount of smoke machine abuse that was going on”). The show is one of several horror-related events at this year’s GMFF, and with the festival’s 2011 edition similarly nightmarish thanks to Italian giallo soundtrack titans Goblin, we ask Hope whether he thinks the genre naturally lends itself to music/film crossover events. “There’s no doubt the horror genre can raise some interesting discussions in terms of its connection with music,” agrees Hope. “As part of my dissertation in university I researched the psychological effect of sound, and how certain volumes, frequencies and timbres can have a profound impact on viewers. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why horror works so well in a live environment; its dynamics can keep an audience stimulated, excited and of course, scared!”
While Umberto is uniquely qualified for scoring old-school horror, we ask Hope who else he’d love to hear take on the task. “I think my favourite horror film ever has to be Halloween,” he says, “but personally I wouldn't want to hear a single change to the soundtrack! In a dream-world, if Demdike Stare and Lightning Bolt were somehow able to collaborate, I'd love to hear what they'd come up with for Evil Dead 2.” Even in concept form, the combination is nerve-shredding.
Tonight marks Cry Parrot’s second collaboration with the GMFF, and it’s a partnership Hope is keen to continue, citing the organisers’ open-minded approach, which permits “free reign to be as creative as possible” with programming. “It’s a brilliant platform for interesting smaller acts to attract a completely different audience and to try something refreshing and new,” he says of the festival’s potential for boundary-crossing. “And,” he hints promisingly, “I've still got lots of fairly ambitious ideas for the festival that I’d like to carry through with in the future.” Anyone got Lightning Bolt’s number?