SXSW Music Preview: Holodeck Records Rescores Egyptian Creation Myth at AFS Cinema

Synth whisperers soundtrack Ra: Path of the Sun God

The lauded retro synth wizards behind Holodeck Records, homegrown label associated with Netflix’ 2016 hit sci-fi drama Stranger Things, are working on their second SXSW re-score premiere. Neon animation based on the Egyptian creation myth, Ra: Path of the Sun God is sonically re-imagined by three Holodeck artists live at AFS Cinema on Wednesday.

Peter Tran, aka one-half of Austin’s Curved Light, performing at Central Presbyterian Church last year during a Holodeck SXSW showcase (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Vancouver-based Andrea Cowan Cosmatos scores one of three “chapters” to the piece. As True Creature, she conjures twinkling, underwater music boxes and 18-bit waltzes in outer space using analog synths, drum machines, and a theremin.

“My portion of the film is centered around the creation of Egypt and birth of the gods,” emails Cosmatos. “My score ended up evolving into something mostly warm and optimistic, with some chaotic elements still slithering around.”

Live Soundtrack to
Ra: Path of the Sun God

Wed., March 13, 5:30pm

AFS Cinema
6259 Middle Fiskville Rd.

The image of a snake coiling around Egyptian hieroglyphs of young gods, alive and embalmed, repeats in Pa: Path of the Sun God. The 1990 film moves form the birth of the gods who created the world to the death of the Divine Pharaoh and his underworld adventure in three parts, narrated originally in a hypnagogic tone by Egyptologist Dr. Geraldine Pinch. Amber Goers of dark, gritty, ATX synth-pop trio Troller re-narrates.

Directed by Scottish animator Lesley Keen, who will attend the screening, Ra’s lambent color work is prefigured in her 1983 homage to Paul Klee, Taking a Line for a Walk, as well as her 1984 short film Invocation, a documentary on Greek mythology. Artists such as South Carolina’s Mike Winkelmann (aka Beeple), who imagined the immersive Futuristic Playground experience for Las Vegas in 2018, demonstrate a similarly conceptual approach to color. Keen, however, chose artists to score most of her early work in experimental electronic music.

“I’m trying to convey my sense of awe of the stories and images by using instruments that are completely alien to that world, but yet feel very appropriate,” offers A.E. Paterra from Pittsburgh.

As Majeure, he utilizes modular synths and manipulated sound samples on the concluding part of the film.

“At the moment, I’m making different types of sound beds that I can create over depending on various cues or moods,” he explains. “There’s also narration involved, so I’m trying to be mindful of that as well.”

Representing Curved Light, the audio-visual duo of Austin’s Peter Tran and Deirdre Smith, is the latter for the midsection of Ra. Tran re-scored a portion of 1964 Japanese horror anthology Kwaidan for Holodeck in 2017, and his synth work moves fluidly from industrial ambient tones to beat-driven melodies, and psychedelic, shimmering ambient soundscapes.

Each artist is given artistic freedom for the score, explains Paterra.

“Typically when scoring, you have others involved with various opinions and directions, but this is a lot of fun because I can do what I like. I’m an admirer of the original score for Ra, so I’m trying to stay in that world, which is a bit icy and understated, yet very beautiful and dark.”

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Stranger Things, Ra: Path of the Sun God, True Creature, Andrea Cowan Cosmatos, Amber Goers, Troller, Lesley Keen, Mike Winkelmann, Beeple, A.E. Paterra, Majeure, Dr. Geraldine Pinch, Holodeck Records, Austin Film Society, AFS Cinema

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