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La Jetée

After a number of years out of print, Superior Viaduct represses their widely celebrated, first ever release of Trevor Duncan’s soundtrack for Chris Marker’s legendary 1962 film "La Jetée". Marked by a stunning sense of abstraction, drawing on brooding industrial ambiences, traces of the human body, and shattered fragments of symphonic orchestration, more than half a century on, it remains a striking bridge, spanning time and radically experimental ideas.

Since their humble founding roughly a decade ago, the San Francisco based imprint, Superior Viaduct, has grown into one of the most important initiatives in the field of reissues and archival releases. With a catalog that now spans a remarkable diverse field, comprising some of the most ambitious releases ever created in post-punk, prog, psych, jazz, and experimental music, they are a context unto themselves, reforming history as they go by digging out pure gold. While easily overlooked against the vast scope of what they do, bubbling within Superior Viaduct’s discography is a crucial crop of incredible film soundtracks, notably Alain Goraguer’s La Planete Sauvage, Ennio Morricone’s Un Uomo da Rispettare, and Eduard Artemiev’s The Mirror / Stalker and Solaris. Of them all, one of the most visionary and exciting is the first ever standalone release of Trevor Duncan's incredible score for Chris Marker’s legendary 1962 film La Jetée. Issued to great acclaim back in 2016, it quickly went out of print and has remained difficult to obtain ever since. Thankfully, we’re thrilled to announce that Superior Viaduct has finally issued a brand-new deluxe edition of 200 copies on clear vinyl in top quality gatefold Stoughton Tip-on sleeve. This is a stunning, impressionistic masterpiece that’s an absolute must for any fan of film, soundtracks, or experimental sound that missed it the first time around.

Sinfully underappreciated, Trevor Duncan (1924 – 2005) was an English composer who is best known for his television and film soundtracks - many produced at or for the BBC - despite working for the majority of his career on more ambitious, large scale symphonic works. Sadly, most of the films that Duncan contributed to have fallen out of public consciousness, and taking with them the awareness of his strikingly visionary sonic efforts. Two major exceptions remain, his score for the Brothers Quay’s The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, created at the very end of his life, and his brilliant soundtrack for Chris Marker’s legendary La Jetée from 1962, a film that was rose within public consciousness as the inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s more famous, 1995 film Twelve Monkeys.

Constructed via a linear sequence of still photographs, La Jetée is a dystopian story of a man, haunted by an image from his childhood. Arguably Marker's best-known work, it s among the first to fully synthesize many of the central preoccupations of his long career - time and memory, power and resistance, and the ephemeral, but resilient qualities of love - while both undermining and rethinking the notion of what a film can be. 

Among the most fascinating aspects of La Jetée is the way in which it deemphasizes the dominance of the visual component of a film, offering a more balanced portion against its sound elements. Here, he found the perfect foil in Trevor Duncan, whose sparse and unsettling soundscapes stand out as entirely singular within the history of film. Unnerving whispers, breaths, and heartbeats are framed against fragments of symphonic music, industrial rumbles and textures, and deeply effecting passages of ambient abstraction, all guided, across the album’s length by the poetic momentum of the narrator's voice, culminating as fascinating counterpoint to then contemporary efforts of musique concrète.

Stunningly produced, Superior Viaduct’s first ever standalone release of Trevor Duncan's score for La Jetée - now repressed in a deluxe edition of 200 copies on clear wax - is issued on vinyl with French and English narrations offered a side each, in a beautiful gatefold Stoughton Tip-on sleeve. More than half a century since the film and its sounds emerged, it remains a striking bridge across time and radically experimental ideas. Seminal and essential on every count.