La Nuit Americaine is the project of Christian Govoni, a Bologna-based guitarist, pianist and programmer. Under the La Nuit Americaine moniker, Govoni released a very limited edition album, ‘Serenadze’, in 2001, which was sold exclusively through Pennyblackmusic’s then shop. Govoni also put out on several small and micro labels various limited edition singles and EPs during that and the following year. He, however, grew weary of the apathy of the record industry at large and subsequently dropped out of making music to become a teacher.

Govoni returned to composing music after a nearly five year absence at the end of last year, and then to live work in February, when, playing a LNA gig in Bologna in support of Robin Guthrie, he unveiled a half an hour segment of music, ‘My Blue Dome’, which reworked some of his old La Nuit Americaine material with newer items.

Largely instrumental wintry-in-tone post rock, ‘My Blue Dome’ merges chattering industrial noises and eerie, cranking soundscapes with short sound samples ; Govoni’s melancholic, occasional vocals and meandering passages of desolate, but haunting beauty.

‘My Blue Dome’ is yet to be officially released. It, however, attracted the attention of two local film directors, Maria Valmori and Virginia Serpieri , who saw the Guthrie show and who, using a tape made at the sound desk that night, have taken it as the soundtrack and inspiration to make a short film entitled ‘Dream Vs Dream’, which combines Terry Gilliam-style cartoon graphics with both their own filmed material and old cinematic and news footage.

Motion is the prime focus of the breathtaking ‘Dream Vs Dream’. It opens, amidst a barrage of spiralling and grinding industrial sounds, in a stormy kaleidoscope of images. In one of the first shots a photographer focuses the lens of his camera up towards the moon. Elsewhere a man springs off the end of a high pier into the water of some docks. Cars circle around the Arc de Triomphe in the 1950’s. A bungee jumper swings up and down in the air, and an anxious-looking young woman rushes down a path of tall trees.

Trains, a destroyer ship and a jet fighter are also revealed, and, as La Nuit Americaine’s music becomes gentler and more ethereal, the camera eventually focuses on the cartoon image of a couple, their backs to the camera, in the front two seats of a car which is travelling down an endless country road. The next shot switches to the back seat of the same car and another graphic, this time of a somewhat forlorn-looking little girl. Behind her out the back window of the car can be seen further shots of the countryside. Like before this footage of the countryside, rather than featuring cartoons, consists of film images.

In another sequence, beyond a drawing of a magnifying glass, a pretty, laughing girl brushes her hair and prepares to go out. A graphic of a vase of water then dominates the screen, behind which the blurry shadows of people can be seen shifting about. After that a sad-faced cartoon girl sits staring out of the window of a train as it stop-starts its way through more filmed images of cities and the country.

Finally the until now restless camera becomes still, and, matched by what is the most languid but yet mournful section of music in the film, focuses for several minutes on another graphic, this time of a girl, her back facing away, staring out of a window into the dusk. It is the only section of the film not to feature any live footage, and suddenly it becomes clear what all the often strange, twisted camera angles, the distorted combination of cartoon and real film and the shots of usually solitary people constantly moving and dashing about have up until now all meant. Valmori and Serpieri's cinema, and Govoni's music is that of loneliness. We can pretend to ourselves that because we are busy and always in motion, live too in the 21st century and the age of the mobile phone and high-speed transport, that human contact is better. Yet, take all that padding away, or simply stop rushing about for a moment, and there is in fact little real communication between many of us anymore. We have become increasingly alienated from one another.

The final devastating sequence of 'Dream vs Dream' brings the film full circle and returns to the skies of the opening shot. Two cartoon men in space suits in the far corner of the screen stare awe-struck at cinema footage of the universe. Amidst this vast backdrop Govoni and the two film directors' message is that human life is pretty small and humble, and all this empty, meaningless rushing about severs and diminishes the one thing we should be focusing on and do have, the ability to communicate with each other.

Christian Govoni has said that he is happy as a teacher, and wants to concentrate on music more as a sideline, rather than what he now sees as with the same unhealthy intensity as before. As Valmori and Serpieri's sympathetic and subtle direction shows, film is, however, an area which suits his brooding, thoughtful work . Hopefully 'Dream Vs Dream' and this new direction of focus will bring some recognition at least to this as of yet still under-valued musician.


More information about La Nuit Americaine and 'Dream Vs Dream' can be found at www.myspace.com/dreamvsdream







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