Published Dec 02, 2008New York filmmaker and photographer Jem Cohen will be releasing a mixed-media DVD on Constellation Records this January. Though you may not know him by name, his work has likely crossed your path many times. His photography has graced the liner notes of everyone from Silver Mt. Zion to Fugazi, and he has directed music videos for R.E.M. and Elliott Smith, as well as Fugazi's must-watch documentary Instrument.
In 2007, Cohen was commissioned to close out the Vienna International Film Festival. He did so with a piece called Evening's Civil Twilight In Empires Of Tin, which, according to Constellation, "is a meditation on the decline of empires, juxtaposing images from the twilight stages of the Hapsburg empire and WWI with footage from present-day Vienna and Cohen's hometown of Brooklyn, NY, where he traces his own visual meditations on the twilight of the American empire."
To help with the project, Cohen enlisted some old friends, including singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt, members of A Silver Mt. Zion, Guy Picciotto of Fugazi and others. The press release continues: "The music includes improvisations, wonderfully blown-out interpretations of Strauss's "The Radetsky March," and bracing renditions of a number of Vic Chesnutt songs. The result is a sort of agit-prop hallucination, a string of film vignettes bound by the poetry of Roth's writing and by the sounds and songs of the live musicians."
The recorded work was later spliced with Cohen's original film and mixed at the mighty Hotel2Tango, and Constellation will release it on January 26. The release will come packaged with an essay by Cohen.
Evening's Civil Twilight In Empires Of Tin tracklisting:
1. Vic Chesnutt "Sponge"
2. Guy Picciotto "World War One"
3. Vic Chesnutt "Distortion"
4. Thierry Amar/Jessica Moss "Der Gasn Nigun"
5. Vic Chesnutt "What He Is And What He Ain't"
6. Guy Picciotto/T. Griffin "Sound Collage"
7. Vic Chesnutt "Coward"
8. Jem Cohen/T. Griffin/Toth "Choir Invisible"
9. Thierry Amar/Eric Craven "Wall St. Flag Improvisation"
10. Vic Chesnutt "Blanket Over The Head"
11. The Quavers "Brooklyn, Silesia"
12. Vic Chesnutt "Rustic City Fathers"
Jem Cohen talks Instrument