Vive la Low Tech! “I still haven’t exhausted the tape recorder. I discover things every time. Not long ago, everybody dreamt of having a Revox! It was the Rolls Royce! Today there’s this spurious idea of ‘progress’, this imposition of new technology by the market. There’s something totalitarian about it. It’s like asking a violinist why he doesn’t play a computer,” states Jérôme Noetinger of the French group Cellule d’Intervention Metamkine in an interview published in The Wire magazine last year.
Noetinger’s cinema brigade functions like a band. Noetinger himself improvises with two aged reel to reel tape recorders and a 1970s synthesizer, while filmmakers Christophe Auger and Xavier Quérel move on the stage, operating eight old 16 millimetre film projectors, turning their beams to different directions and into prisms, corroding the films with chemicals and setting them on fire. The result reminds one of the expanded cinema happenings of the 1970s and musique conrète, but filtered through everything that has taken place after them, and especially through the intensity of noise music.
Noetinger encountered the French tradition of musique conrète already in his early teens, and through writing for fanzines also became familiar with the 1980s industrial and noise music scene – Throbbing Gristle, Merzbow, Nurse with Wound, and others. Subsequently he started his own cassette label and founded a “multimedia” group. In 1987 he established a record label called Metamkine, complemented with a mail-order store for experimental music under the same name. Similar small units working in more than one field have traditionally been the driving force behind the type of music showcased in Avanto, both artistically and with respect to the infrastructure of the scene. Like Austria’s Mego, UK’s Touch, Holland’s Staalplaat, Metamkine has always been concerned with the visual aspects of music as well. The label gained its fame with the Cinéma Pour l’Oreille (Cinema for the Ear) cd series, the merits of which include discovering the original of Walther Ruttman’s Wochenende (1930) – featured in the Film Without Film programme in Avanto – preserved by Ruttman’s daughter, and releasing it for the first time as a record.
Cellule d’Intervention Metamkine was founded in 1989, and the group has performed on countless film festivals, music festivals and audiovisual events. Noetinger comments, “In multimedia events, you’ve got images and sound alongside one another, but there’s no real relationship between them. Our work, on the other hand, is an interactive process: the music and images are created simultaneously, and if you were to listen to the music on its own, there would be something missing.”
Cellule d’Intervention Metamkine in the Kiasma Theatre on Saturday, November 20th at 20.00.