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Robin Richards' "The Earth Asleep // Birdsong" comprises his modern classical soundtracks to two eponymous films: Clara Casian’s documentaries about the 2011 Japan tsunami and 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, respectively.
The Earth Asleep (2021) addresses the ways in which our exposure to extreme live-trauma in the form of rolling news and citizen reportage has resulted in an inability to process grief at a manageable, human scale. Film, poetry and live music intertwine to conjure a pathway by which the human soul might navigate unseen astral dimensions. As the earth sleeps, past and present merge in this live rhythmic montage. The soundtrack features members of two Mercury Prize-nominated bands: Chris Illingworth of GoGo Penguin on piano; and Michael Spearman of Everything Everything on drums and percussion.
An amusement park in the Ukrainian city of Pripyat was due to be opened on the 1st May 1986, but the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred just a few miles away on 26th April. The park’s owners opened the park for a couple of hours the following day for the people of Pripyat before the city was evacuated. Eerie images of the deserted Pripyat Amusement Park now permeate the visual representation of the city’s desolation. Combining the immediacy and energy of live musical performance with the visual impact of film, Birdsong: Stories from Pripyat weaves personal and scientific narratives filmed within the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Combining the immediacy and energy of live musical performance with the visual impact of film, Birdsong: Stories from Pripyat aims to revisit a dramatic and devastating historical event using personal and scientific narratives to draw out the tensions and truths at play in our collective, cultural memories of this unfathomable event.