Before Manga and Studio Ghibli, the wonderful hand illustrations of René Laloux created a feel somewhere between ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ and ‘Yellow Submarine’.
Laloux’s 1973 Cannes French animation La Planète Sauvage (Fantastic Planet) comes to life with a live score played to this cinematic gem. This is animated psychedelic science fiction brought to life by The Orkestra of the Underground, showcasing some of Sydney’s finest musical minds.
A musical mashup of horns, sitar, synthesisers, drums, tabla, strings, Indian vocals, guitar, Bosnian Gypsy opera, decks and junk percussion, The Orkestra will weave together a 72 minute score to the animated film Fantastic Planet composed and conceived by Ben Walsh.
Walsh himself selected the animated French science fiction film Fantastic Planet (La Planète Sauvage). Directed by René Laloux, Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973, Fantastic Planet is entirely hand-drawn, with a script and design by French writer/artist Roland Topor. The film depicts a future in which human beings are hunted down by giant, humanoid aliens and kept as pets.

‘..Walsh has flawlessly distilled the essence of a sound manifested perfectly through the instrument, whether it is evocative piano melodies, the bending wail of the soprano sax, the outer-worldliness of the Sitar player.’ …..TIME OUT, Sydney

‘….Ben Walsh's score combined beats, horns, sitar, synth, tabla, strings, Indian vocals, guitar, decks and junk percussion to dissonant effect. Its throbbing, retro-futuristic vibe seemed to create an eerie portal through time. Backed by Walsh's hallucinatory rhythms, the film was met with shocked silence and admiration. Indifference to this out-of this-world production was hardly an option…’ ....TIME OUT, Sydney

‘Sydney Festival saw a sizable crowd migrate to hear the haunting drumming of Ben Walsh, a Newtown icon and one of Sydney’s best, most progressive and experimental percussionists. The live score composed by Walsh involved a plethora of instruments from accordion to Sitar to strings, cymbals, a full horn section, live Indian vocals, a DJ on decks and synthesizers complementing the dulcet tones of Bosnian gypsy opera. The floating screen housed an eclectic collection of Sydney’s best musicians giving it their all, each instrument was perfectly synchronized to create the exact ambience needed. Imagine [if] The Bird, Hermitude, The Crusty Suitcase Band, Ponyclub Massacre all produced an illegitimate offspring: this gig would be it. [It was] a seamless blend of composition, live music, animation, percussion and film. And free! ….MUSICFEEDS.COM.AU



René Laloux’s bizarre psychedelic science fiction animation Fantastic Planet features his masterful hand-drawn illustrations and tells the story of a war between two alien races on a far away planet. With a unique and beguiling aesthetic, it won the special jury prize at Cannes in 1973 but today is not so easy to come across.
In January you can experience the strange, dreamy film on the big screen during one of Sydney Festival’s free event series. Fantastic Planet will be amongst the films featured in the iiNet Films Afloat program, where Australian and international musicians will perform live scores to three cult movies from January 14-18, on a floating stage at Darling Harbour.

Sydney-based musician Ben Walsh (The Bird, Circle of Rhythm, Tom Tom Club) is composing the score for the Fantastic Planet screening, and he has brought together an eclectic group of Australian musicians (including Sarangan Sriranganathan and musicians from The Bird, Hermitude, Ponyclub Massacre, The Crusty Suitcase Band) to perform it with him. Ben says he’s worked with all of the musicians in different capacities before but this is the first time he’s united them as what he calls The Orkestra of The Underground. With horns, sitar, synthesisers, drums, tabla, strings, Indian vocals, guitar, Bosnian gypsy opera, decks and junk percussion, they are sure to add a whole new dimension to the film.

“I’m used to the music being the primary focus of my projects but when you write music for a film or for theatre/dance you’re adding a secondary element,” says Walsh. “Writing the score over the last three weeks I’ve ended up enhancing the emotions of certain scenes, giving tension or intensity to new parts. It changes the way you write music as a whole and that's refreshing to me.
“I look forward to the music being an equal element to the films in this series and I think it will be quite interesting for audiences to watch a film while focusing equally on the music because it's being made live.” ….ALTERNATIVE MEDIA GROUP


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