Discordywood at Taller Milans – 15th August ’15

Discordywood 1El Pricto (alto sax)
Diego Caicedo (electric guitar)
Àlex Reviriego (electric bass)
Enric Ponsa (drums)

On a rainy Saturday in Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic, those deviant experimentalists from Discordian Records were serving up “anachronicsexdisruption”. Or to put it another way, early 20th century pornographic films accompanied by twisted improvised noise-song. It’s a far cry from the days when silent movies were shown to the sound of a fellow playing jaunty tunes on the piano.

At what point does porn cease to be seedy, exploitative, slightly shameful titillation (which, after all, is how we’re meant to see it by all right-thinking middle-class brunch-eating commentators) and instead become art?

Maybe age is something to do with it? The richer the vintage, the more removed from our everyday, the more delicate (and quaint) an experience it seems. Then there’s the musical accompaniment. Clichéd 70s funk works just fine alongside moustachioed plumbers looking for somewhere to put their adjustable wrench, but what about something a little less ‘traditional’?

Well, the Discordian way is to take some old silent ‘naughty’ films (and some of them were quite naughty indeed, NSFW and definitely not for children) and add some deliciously deranged and perverted sounds that added a much more modern air of dissonance and unease.

The images ranged from Buster Keaton tameness to significant discomfort. I’m not overly prudish but the old-fashioned costumes and mannerisms are reminiscent of two, three, maybe even four generations ago, and personally, I could live without putting the words “grandmother” and “fellatio” into the same sentence.

The music however, did bring an odd intensity to the spectacle. Ranging from comedy clatters, to bass groans, percussive smacks, and rhythmic cowbell (and of course, El Pricto’s tongue slapping technique!) the sounds on offer often intuitively followed and complemented the visuals. That said, as with any instant improvisation, there were moments in which however pleasing the noise, it was not so in sync with the screen. I did wonder whether this type of gig offered new opportunities for performance anxiety. After all, for most of us, watching pornography in company is (or would be) a less than comfortable experience. So what’s it like having to play as the ‘house band’? Does it feel weird to be blowing your horn (so to speak) when on the screen behind you, some long-deceased Ruben-esque actress is doing likewise?

Still, the free improvisation definitely combined with the pubic displays to create a new (and appropriately outré) experience. One that the public outside in the street were invited to share by peeping through the keyhole-shaped cut-outs that had been stuck over the windows – nice touch! And that sums it up really, under everything – the concept, the playing, the ‘slapstick’ images – lies the usual sly Discordian humour. My only lingering question is why did most the women look like Monty Python’s Terry Jones in drag…?