“Some people went around interviewing dying patients and not one person said they regretted not making more money or working harder. Their regrets were not spending more time with the people they loved and not travelling more and relating more to the world – to the planet“. It’s all very well for Tom Robbins to make this statement. He is a best selling author and I guess he has never had to worry about money. I’ve just spent an hour on the phone with someone who has to live on her state pension and she doesn’t know where her next meal is coming from.
Yesterday I wrote about the emotional impact great music can add to visuals in a film or TV programme. “1 Giant Leap” takes this concept a little further. Jamie Catto and Duncan Bridgeman travelled the world recording musicians, authors and artists and making short films. They pieced it all together into a CD and a DVD which although they have the same cover art and feature some of the same music are different artefacts. The films on the DVD are split into concepts such as Time, Faith, Money, God, Sex, Happy, Death and Inspiration. Music, film sequences and snippets of speech (like the Tim Robbins quote at the start) all combine in a unique way. Most of the speeches are great conversation pieces. At times I agree with the Tim Robbins quote and at other times I think it’s misguided nonsense. Each film on the DVD consists of one or more pieces of music and stunning visuals. The CD splits the music into twelve identifiable and distinct tracks. The style of the music is trip-hop and electronica but seeing as the music comes from all over the world, on Wikipedia it is also classified as world music. Obviously “world music” is a ridiculous term – all music is world music and it’s a bit odd to classify all non-Western music together in one genre. Let’s just say that this CD is full of a range of different musical styles and influences.
The artists appearing on “1 Giant Leap” include Dennis Hopper, Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Stipe, Bono, Susan Sarandon, k.d. lang, Tom Robbins, Dido, Brian Eno, Tim Robbins, Daniel Lanois, Yoko Ono, J. P. Donleavy, Naomi Klein, Oumou Sangare, Billy Connolly, Baaba Maal, Rokia Traore, DBC Pierre, Neneh Cherry, Robbie Williams, Lila Downs, Bob Geldof, Neale Walsch, Stephen Fry, Gita Mehta, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Speech, Mahotella Queens, and Michael Franti.
Between 1995 and 1999, Jamie Catto was a vocalist with “Faithless” who are an English electronic band, formed in 1995 by Maxi Jazz, Sister Bliss and Rollo. Two years after the release of this CD and DVD, 1 Giant Leap produced another DVD called “What About Me?”. It’s nearly as good but there is no associated CD. Since then, Jamie Catto has forged out a career in motivational speaking (“how to bring your dream project into the world”) and Duncan Bridgeman has moved into more film making, being nominated for two Grammies.
The film “Death” on the DVD comprises uses the song “If You Go” from the CD to form an amazing ten minute sequence. Various people speak in this film including Dennis Hopper, Ram Dass and Tom Robbins (USA), Kid Sithole, Nicholas Ellenbogen (South Africa), Fred Reid (Australia), Davina McCall (UK) and Rewati Sakalkar (India). The musicians that play on this track include Richard Carter (bongos), South Africa), The Mahotella Queens (vocals, South Africa), Levon Minassien (doudouk, France), Aaron Bebe (sepewera, Ghana), Sanjay Kumar Verma (Indian guitar, India) and The Luang Padit Thairoh School (kong, Thailand). I don’t know what “kong” means. That’s truly music that represents….. er, um,…I’m trying not to use the phrase “all corners of the globe” because that’s a ridiculous phrase. This film could be a complete mess but it’s brilliantly merged into one superb audiovisual work of art.
“If you listen to music, it soothes you, it controls you it makes you happy” – this is the background to the short uplifting film called “Happy”, based on the song “Passion” from the CD. Again, there is a whole list of musicians from around the world and the film shows people from a wide variety of countries dancing to “the drummers of the world”.
There are some remarkable performances on this CD/DVD. One of the most memorable is the vocal performance by Revetti Sakalkar, who is an Indian singer of Varanasi music. This appears in the last three minutes of the film called “Time” featuring the song “Daphne” from the CD. Other vocalists on this track are Eddie Reader (UK), Yeye (Ghana) and The Mahotella Queens (South Africa). It’s breathtaking how different performances and snippets of speech can be merged together to form one coherent powerful piece.
Dennis Hopper appeared towards the end of “Apocalypse Now” spouting a cocktail of garbled, confused, jumbled rubbish in defence of Colonel Kurtz played by Marlon Brando. He appears at the end of this piece too. “In six million years we’ll be nothing but dust anyway. This incredible vehicle that man is – this vehicle that we’re travelling on going at this tremendous speed through the galaxy as we see the Hubble telescope showing us the fire of existence surrounding us up there – our past – our future. We talk about miracles – we are a miracle – we are all living a miracle – it’s amazing.” Anyone fancy buying me a pint and discussing this for the next few hours?