Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Eyes Wide Shut" - "Masked Ball" by Jocelyn Pook

Click to zoom Masked Ball is, for me, one of most hipnotic songs I never listened, composed by Jocelyn Pook, and first released in her album Flood, was used in Stanley Kubrick's film Eyes Wide Shut.

The piece Masked Ball, which incorporates a fragment of an Orthodox Liturgy played backwards and lyrics chanted in Romanian.




Jocelyn Pook (born 14 February 1960, Birmingham, England) is a British composer, pianist and viola player.

Jocelyn Pook’s distinctive style is a product of her diverse experiences in classical, commercial, and so-called world music. After graduating from London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, she performed with many pop artists including The Communards and Massive Attack, and formed Electra Strings for whom she wrote original material. She has worked extensively with eminent dance companies such as DV8 and Shobana Jeyasingh, and in 2002 she was commissioned by the BBC Proms to write a work for The King’s Singers in collaboration with Poet Laureate Andrew Motion.

As one of the Leytonstone Contingent, Pook recorded on two occasions with pianist Jeremy Peyton Jones for& Rough Trade and later for Century XXI. About a year later, she joined Anne Stephenson and ;Audrey Riley to accompany Virginia Astley both on stage and record. Session work followed and alternated with her co-founding of the Electra Strings with Australian violinist Sonia Slany and an album on the Village Life label. This neoclassical chamber quartet later transformed into the Brilliant Strings after she and Slany had gone their separate ways.

As a solo recording artist, Pook released several albums for the Virgin // Realworld labels. These included Deluge (1997), Flood (1999) and Untold Things. Her career as a film composer took flight when cuts from Flood album became used in Stanley Kubrick's film Eyes Wide Shut. The piece Masked Ball, which incorporates a fragment of an Orthodox Liturgy played backwards and lyrics chanted in Romanian, underscored the infamous masked ball sequence.

Further scores have subsequently been contributed to several European films, notably 2004 film version of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Peter Kosminsky's film on David Kelly, The Government Inspector, "Brick Lane" and 2007's Chaotic Ana.



Pook's inspiration for the compositions (originally conceived as "Deluge", music for a Canadian dance company) was "linking up the two millenia - the year 1000 and the year 2000 - by means of myth, legends and fears about the end of the world". She "wanted the music to embody ideas and influences from both these ages, and to draw upon cultures as diverse as Hinduism and Christianity, Judaism and Islam". The result is a broody, eclectic and at times minimalistic fusion of medieval chant motifs, lush modern harmonies, childlike lead vocals, traditionally nasal world folksongs and chamber-style strings that alternately drone menacingly and pulse like heartbeats.

In the ritual, the incantations in the background are part of a Romanian Orthodox Divine Liturgy recorded in a church in Baia Mare, played backwards. The piece, named "Masked Ball", is an adaptation by Jocelyn Pook of her "Backwards Priests." When contacting Pook in regard to providing music for the film, Kubrick asked if she had anything else like Backwards Priests - "you know, weird.

This is the lyrics as sound in the film:
Auov uad auon acnurop ias iicinecu ertac iulunmod asiz. Aiutseca iulusacal iulutnafs ia irotacafenib is irotiulim irotanihcni. Uezenmud iul rolibor roletacap aeratrei is aerasal aeratecrec aer.
But if you reverse it, you can listen a cite of Bible, (Jn 13, 34) in romanian language:
Zisa Domnului catre ucenicii sai, porunca noua dau voua. Domnului sa ne rugam pentru mila, viata, pacea, sanatatea, mantuirea, cercetarea, lasarea si iertarea pacatelor robilor lui Dumnezeu. Inchinatori, miluitori si binefacatori ai sfantului lacasului acestuia.
And translated says:
And God told to his apprentices...I gave you a command...to pray to the Lord for the mercy, life, peace, health, salvation, the search, the leave and the forgiveness of the sins of God's children. The ones that pray, they have mercy and they take good care of this holy place.
It is curious and especially controversial, just "The new commandment" was sung in the orgy scene, claiming the maximum should love each other in a way never called by the Church, focusing solely on sexual love or eros, ignoring the transcendent and pure love for Christians, agape.