I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

Anna Meredith: Music for Other Planets

by Casey Dewey
Jan. 18, 2014

Anna Meredith, from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a 35-year-old performer and composer pushing sonic boundaries. She was a composer-in-residency with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, wrote a concerto for legendary beatboxer Shlomo, and she’s won numerous Young Composer awards.

If real life is anything like sci-fi movies — in the year 2014, I’m gonna call it and say it already is — we’re getting ready for a classical music renaissance. Not your older relative’s classical music, but orchestral music with a modern, electronic twist. Think Fifth Element’smemorable glitchy opera scene, the marriage of classical music and advanced technology in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the entire scope of Repo! The Genetic Opera. Meredith’s musical output is also cinematic, and lends itself to her schizophrenic, animated music videos.

Orlok, from Meredith’s EP Jet Black Raider, is a frenetic piece that sounds like the unlikely pairing of minimal composer Philip Glass and recent synth-odyssey voyager Com Truise. Imagine Koyaanisqatsi filtered through Add N To X and you get the idea. The black and white video, featuring puppets designed by Meredith composing a crude concert, looks like something that would have been featured on MTV’s Liquid Television back in the 1990’s.

In the same Liquid Television vein, but perhaps more suited for Network Awesome’s own 120 Megabytes, is Nautilus, from her 2012 album Black Prince Fury. The video is a prime slice of avant-garde animation, while the music is a brassy fanfare caught in a dubstep net. This may go over the steppers’ heads at club night, but it’s perfectly suited for a late-night drive to somewhere of ill repute. Pitchfork compared this particular track to another experimental visionary, the famed NYC weirdo-deluxe Moondog.

Shifting gears a bit is the piece Yellow. This one is a more traditional classic piece, performed solely on cello. Still, this isn’t a track you’d call “calming” or you’d hear in your grandmother’s parlor room. It’s jarring yet semi-traditional piece that brings to mind Krzysztof Penderecki jamming with one of John Zorn’s chamber-groups in the Lower East Side. The video starts off with a silhouette of a woman who suddenly transforms into a cello. Springing out of the instrument are a half dozen players, each sizzling away at it. Several more cellos multiply like so much water on a Mogwai’s back, each with it’s own player. It reminds me of those classic James Bond title sequences by Maurice Binder, but far less sleazier.

Recently, Meredith arranged strings for the dastardly men in black themselves, punk legends The Stranglers. Pitchfork recently spotlighted her on their “Rising” series, and she’s made several best-of-year lists. My prediction: she’ll soon be highly sought after by numerous forward-thinking rap artists, looking for the freshest sci-fi beats. It’s 2014, and since we’re already living in a sci-fi reality, you’ll be hearing Meredith’s name quite a bit.





Casey Dewey resides in Tucson, Arizona. He's a film writer for the Tucson Weekly and host of "Deep Red Radio" , a radio show dedicated to film soundtracks on 91.3 KXCI FM. He enjoys tacos, cervezas and garlic in everything. He wakes up every morning to a fresh pot of black coffee and at least two hours of Dragnet on TV.