Optical Sound is a mini-festival in its own right, so dive into our guide broken down into five sections to help you through the programme.
Berlin-based collaborators grace UK shores with the premiere of their new show, with Midori Hirano a.k.a MimiCof launching her new LP. With heady visuals and delicate ambient textures, MimiCof weaves her classical background in piano into beautifully arranged electronics. We’re super excited to host them. Catch them on Friday 7 April at 21:15 at the BMI Lyttelton Theatre.
Trust us, you want to hear this on a proper sound system while being blasted away by mind-bending visuals. This is Zeno Van Den Broek’s first time in the UK and is set to be a real treat for fans of abrasive noise, obscure sound art and industrial hums. Saturday 8 April at 17:00 at the BMI Lyttelton Theatre.
When she’s not making her own short animations as part of the experimental animation collective Late Night Work Club, Loup Blaster’s collaborating with the Calais-based electronic music producer NUMéROBé. NUMéROBé brings the abstract hip hop and the bass; Loup Blaster brings the live animation. This is a sure highlight of Optical Sound. Not to be missed on Friday 7 April at 19:30 at the BMI Lyttelton.
A perfect follow up to Loup Blaster’s galvanising short film at the Victoria the previous day.
A melodramatic love triangle plays out amid a stream of edge-of-seat plot twists with a tingling live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney. All ten episodes will be screened over two days – a unique experience. Catch the whole thing at the BMI John Lee Theatre over Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 April.
Two evocative works that re-purpose found footage to create a potent sense of time and place. Sketches of Brunei c.1978 is the latest from experimental filmmaker Ian Nesbitt, in which he unearths his parents’ video footage of his childhood in Brunei, and through clever editing fashions a portrait of a country on its way to independence. Both a historically fascinating journey into another’s memories and a personal ode to a nation finding itself. A silent film, you’ll be joined by sound artist George Rogers whose Eastern-inspired score will send the room floating.
Birdsong: Stories from Pripyat will be screened subsequent to Sketches of Brunei, where Dutch Uncles composer Robin Richards will present his original score for Clara Casian’s lyrical and haunting film made from unseen archive material from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Catch both films at the BMI Lyttelton Theatre on Sunday 9 April at 16:45.
Don your 3D glasses (provided) and enjoy a selection of bizarre gems from the 3D Film Archive from the ’50s and ’60s complete with a live soundtrack composed by Birmingham Conservatoire students and a live commentary. It really will be a full-on sensory experience. In store is the controversial anti-atomic testing film Doom Town, which was strangely pulled from cinemas after only a few screenings in 1953 and The Adventures of Sam Space (pictured below), the 3D stop motion animated short from 1960. That’s just two out of many, so come on down to the Electric Cinema on Saturday 8 April at midday for unmissable surprises you wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else.
More animations and visceral sound here featuring Mica Levi’s sublime original soundtrack to Delete Beach, a short anime-style film in which a school-girl joins an anti-capitalist resistance group in a future society where carbon-based energy is illegal. Also on the bill we welcome back cult Japanese animator Sawako Kabuki whose bonkers short film Master Blaster won our Random Acts short film award at Flatpack 10. She’ll be screening her new work Nou Nen feat.utae before an ever-increasing medley of experimental revelry at the far-out end of film and sound. Taking place at the BMI John Lee Theatre on Sunday 9 April from 13:30, it’s going to be quite a ride.
workshops & behind-the-scenes
This is for anyone interested in the processes behind documentary filmmaking as well as those who love the music of Sleaford Mods, and – perhaps separately – Moondog. Christine Franz will share her insights into the months spent making Bunch of Kunst and Holly Elson’s talk will cover her hotly anticipated documentary about the legendary blind street musician Moondog. They’ll be at the Flatpack Hub at 15:45 on Friday 7 April.
Any fan of synthesisers and modern electronic music owes a lot to Daphne Oram, the woman behind the Oramics technique for producing electronic sounds. She was the first woman to run an electronic music studio and to design and construct an electronic musical instrument. She set up her Oramics Studios for Electronic Composition after leaving the BBC where she co-founded the Radiophonic Workshop. This workshop will give you the chance to play around with Oramics for the first time in 40 years. Just drop into the BMI Gallery space on Saturday April 8th, 2017 at 4pm.
Or get your groove on. It depends which wavelength you catch as you surf the global airwaves in a dark room surrounded by friendly plants. Radio Garden will transport you anywhere you please.