Soundtrack to Stan Douglas’ ‘Luanda-Kinshasa’ video
Showcased at The Infinite Mix exhibition
Double 12” heavyweight vinyl
Gatefold sleeve and two printed inner sleeves
The Eye of the Trumpet essay by Diedrich Diederichsen and Stan Douglas
Recorded in Brooklyn, New York on June 22nd and 23rd, 2013.
1B : Luanda
Stan Douglas: Concept/Editing
Scott Harding: Producer/Arranger
Kahlil Kwame Bell: Percussion
Liberty Ellman: Lead Guitar
Jason Lindner: Moog Whirlitzer
Abdou Mboup: Congas
Nitin Mitta: Tablas
Jason Moran: Rhodes, B3 & Band Leader
Antoine Roney: Alto Saxophone
Marvin Swewell: Rhythm Guitar
Kimberly Thompson: Drums
Burniss Earl Travis: Bass
In celebration of The Infinite Mix, The Vinyl Factory releases the soundtrack to Stan Douglas’s ‘Luanda-Kinshasa’. The video is shot like a documentary film on a set carefully crafted to resemble a legendary New York recording studio.
Stan Douglas’s Luanda-Kinshasa depicts a fictional 1970s jazz-funk band engaged in a seemingly endless real-time jam. The band’s music echoes the then-current confluence of American jazz, funk and Afrobeat – a musical fusion made possible, as the video’s title indirectly implies, by the emerging independence and rising profile of African nations.
As the camera appears to seamlessly circle around the studio, the sound mix highlights whichever musician it lingers on, enhancing the impression that we are watching a live performance. But the band’s improvisation is actually a construction: intricately remixed by Douglas in the editing room, it extends through over six hours of ‘alternate takes’ created by recombining various shots and accompanying sections of music. Conjuring a never-ending sequence of variations, Luanda-Kinshasa conjures a vision of culture as a potentially ‘infinite mix.’
Through photography, film and installation, the Canadian artist Stan Douglas has, since the late-1980s, examined complex intersections of narrative, fact and fiction while scrutinising the constructs of the media he employs and their influence on our understanding of reality. Douglas’s work is often in the first instance an examination of place – Potsdam, Cuba and Detroit have provided the impetus for, respectively, Der Sandmann (1995), Inconsolable Memories (2005) and Le Détroit (1999) – but entangled with the detail of specific geographical and political circumstance is a diverse range of source material that has included the writings of Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, Theodor W. Adorno and ETA Hoffmann, and the films of Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles. While we may recognise the literary, filmic or musical references, along with the stories, places or even characters appropriated in these complex works, expectations are often frustrated. Instead of narrative fulfilment, Douglas offers us complexity, perplexity and doubt. The artist has remarked that ‘life is all middle’ and in Douglas’s work the viewer often finds himself plunged into events whose beginnings are obscured and whose ends seem to dissolve into mutability. For instance, the films Journey Into Fear (2001), which makes reference to Eric Ambler’s 1940s spy novel as well as Herman Melville’s 1857 novel ‘The Confidence Man’, and Klatsassin (2006), which referring to Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 film Rashomon reveals details of a murder in nineteenth-century British Columbia through a series of sometimes contradictory flashbacks and anecdotes, unfold over many days. Both are examples of Douglas’s ‘recombinant’ works – sequences of imagery and dialogue generated by computer as permutations that are capable of running without repetition for timespans way in excess of the conventional art-viewing experience. As such, the works unmoor themselves from formal requirements of narrative and expectations of authorship as they liberate the viewer to reflect on the contingencies of truth in the wider world. It is no coincidence that Douglas often chooses to locate his work where failures of political and social systems are most apparent. His critical eye focused on events that could have taken a very different turn, Douglas attunes us to the possibility of alternative outcomes.
Born in Vancouver in 1960, Stan Douglas has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide.