1 November 2009

Sparks on The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman

The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman is an unusual album, even for Sparks. Originally designed as a radio programme for Sweden (and hence written in Swedish) it is now being released in English and Sparks are in the UK to promote it.

One of these promotional appearances was on the Stuart Maconie Radio 6 programme, Freak Zone, and this was recorded in front of an enthusiastic audience, myself included. This was at the BBC Radio Theatre, a familiar venue for me which made getting middle seats in the front row hardly a challenge.

The show started with the album played in its entirety. It narrates the fictional but allegorical story of Ingmar Bergman's attempted seduction by Hollywood.

Ingmar Bergman plays the role of narrator of his own story and he provides the link between the songs.

Musically the album is something of a new direction for Sparks (not that they are unused to taking new directions) and there is only one song that sounds as though it could have come off one of the recent albums.

From one hearing it is hard to define a theme or a mood to the music but I do recall a lot of heavier rock-like tunes. There was also a lot of what I thought was Steve Reich influenced.

The hour of music was followed by an hour of interviewing though I suspect it will be greatly edited down when broadcast on 8 November as Stuart Maconie looked and sounded rather lost at times and the interviewed drifted poorly between subjects and (mostly) failed to reach any meaningful depths.

It was not all gloss though and when Sparks were asked specific questions about music (most of these were audience questions) then we did learn some new things, such as Ron's appreciation of the music of Bernard Hermann (most famous for the soundtracks to several Hitchcock films) and of John Adams.

But I do not want to focus on the negatives because it was a very good evening; we got to hear the exciting new Sparks album before its official release and got to spend an hour in their easy company. It's nights like this that make living in London such fun.

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