Stan Douglas’ film Luanda-Kinshasa uses as its carefully reconstructedbackdrop the legendary Columbia Records recording studio, as it looked in the 1970s. Set up in a former Armenian church, this hallowed space, in which Miles Davis played and Aretha Franklin sang, made some of the most seminal recordings in contemporary music.
Luanda-Kinshasa tells the story of a fictitious musical recording. Musi- cians improvise a piece in a visual environment that, from the style of clothing worn by the characters to the sound recording equipment, creates a retro atmosphere that is nevertheless hard to place and somehow out of time.The film composes and recom- poses the tracks randomly to create an almost hypnotic, six-hour music loop.
Engulfed by the big screen, visitors watch something that they believe to be a key moment in music history, and yet, what they are seeing is a fiction situated in an indefinite, subjective timescape, part of a seemingly infinite composition process.
The artist explores the African roots of NewYork’s music scene in the seventies.The afrobeat influence is very present, with a particular focus on the blending of musical traditions.The musicians’ skill, readily apparent in their individual and col- lective playing, becomes palpable and jubilant throughout this improvised session.