Evan Caminiti’s first narrative film soundtrack, Autoscopy, showcases his ability to create new worlds with sound.
Evan Caminiti has been part of my musical journey in various ways over the past 15 years or so. We first met through his work with Barn Owl and formed a connection that sprouted many excellent works through the years. Through that time Caminiti’s work has evolved and taken unexpected paths, all the while continuing to showcase is talent and unique voice. Last year’s Varispeed Hydra was a futuristic dreamworld where synthetic desolation ran wild and his tight compositions were a playground of electronic exultations. Now, he’s returned with the soundtrack for the short film Autoscopy by Claes Nordwall.
Caminiti has often created cinematic music that moves beyond the aural plane and into a more tangible spectrum. With Autoscopy, those visual cues come to life with spacious drone passages and hypnotic loops that add to the claustrophobic feeling of the film. With “Autoscopy (Basic Theme),” an urgency for resolution emerges, like a frantic attempt to escape the hellscape of your own mind. It’s incredibly affecting and laced with horror. Caminiti thrives in this zone, pushing deep into the sonic void with “Cabin.” Slowly unfolding and impossibly tense, the piece moves through crux of ringing feedback and ancient, earthy drones as it subtly shifts toward a dense, overwhelming feeling of isolation.
With the best soundtracks, they work on their own as a sonic artifact in addition to enhancing whatever film/video they were made for. Evan Caminiti’s Autoscopy achieves this in spades.
This short interview was conducted with Evan via email in late February and early March of 2021. (I couldn’t help myself and had to ask about Barn Owl)
How did you get involved with the film and come to do the soundtrack?
The film’s director Claes Nordwall had me in mind and he reached out.
What were some of the biggest differences working on music for a narrative film versus working on more experimental films?d
I’d never taken the approach of scoring to picture with any of the non-narrative film projects I worked on in the past. Playing live with Paul Clipson was really this type of improvisation where the images and sounds took on a relationship of their own and magic could happen if you were open to it. With “Autoscopy” I was composing very tight cues that bordered on sound design at times. It was a heavily iterative process with tight collaboration between me and Claes. While the film was shot at the time I came on board, I wasn’t scoring to the film’s final version initially, so there was a mutable relationship between sound and image. I was lucky that there was enough time to develop a sonic vocabulary unique to the film and it wasn’t a rushed process of basically tacking on a score at the very end. Given that the film has no dialogue the music had a big role to play.
It seems a little poetic that some of this work was composed and recorded at EMS Stockholm – was that intentional or just serendipitous?
Totally serendipitous. I was a guest composer at EMS in 2017 and was getting to the point in 2020 where I was going through some of the material I recorded there to piece together some new projects.
What was that experience like?
Magical. Such a dream and a privilege to have access to the tools at EMS. I never adjusted to the time change so I’d come in late at night and work until morning on both the Buchla and the Serge systems, recording as much as I could so I’d have material to shape back in my home studio.
Do you have any more film work lined up or in the works? What else are you working on these days, either your own music projects and also with Dust Editions?
I scored a feature length film last year too, but I can’t really talk about what’s happening with that at this point. It’s funny, moving to Los Angeles had nothing to do with these film scoring opportunities. I’ve also been working on a lot of new recordings, both collaborations and solo material, and focusing on practicing and learning new instruments and tools.
That’s great news about the feature-length film! I’m curious – what kind of challenges did that present compared to Autoscopy?
The sheer quantity of music needed for a feature length film meant I had to write, record, and produce a lot of music pretty quickly. Since the role of the music is to serve the story, the characters, and so on, it creates really interesting constraints that push you into new creative approaches which is both inspiring and challenging.
Can you shed any light on what’s coming up for you on the music front and with Dust Editions? Will we ever see the return of Barn Owl? (sorry, had to at least ask ;))
I’m focusing on a few Bandcamp releases with an emphasis on new guitar-centric material and working with more recordings from EMS for a new LP. There is also some new Higuma material in the works, which we’re approaching from a pretty conceptual angle. It’s been really fun to work on.
There are no plans for any new Barn Owl. It’s wild, I think our last show was 8 years ago and after all these years people still ask about it all the time. I’m grateful for the support and I hope the new music I’ve been working on will be a new perspective on a familiar zone. Musically I’ve been so obsessed with textures, process, and rhythm for years, but working on these film scores got me excited about playing guitar again.
What have you missed the most over the past year?