Soundtrack Mix #23: Sonic Memoria - Apichatpong Weerasethakul

A celebration of music and sound in the cinema of Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
Florence Scott-Anderton

The presence or absence of sound in Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s films is a fundamental element, as is its timing. Sound is a character alluding to memory, touch, the erotic, the urban and natural world.  At just under two hours, this mix is a dreamscape journey into Apichatpong’s cinema sonics. From the opening edit, we’re surrounded by the luscious sounds of Syndromes and a Century (2006), traveling through the Thai director’s singular vision of place, love, desire, family, the body, history, and the conscious versus unconscious.

Moments of song or dialogue tend to break the chapters. A jolt of song at the titles (not necessarily approaching at the presumed moment) making way for the next act, a motorcycle ride, or a much-favored exercise class, music bursts out momentarily relieving ambient trance. Here there's a focus on several films, Syndromes and a Century, Blissfully Yours (2002), Tropical Malady (2004) and Mysterious Object at Noon (2000), with other shorts and features also included. On-location sound, the importance of the sound designer, has always taken precedence in Apichatpong’s films, and those rich textures are the staple which holds this soundscape together.  In this focused filmography of a never ending oeuvre one can capture the joy that sound and music has on storytelling for Apichatpong. Mekong Hotel (2012) and Monsoon (2011) have serene guitar lulling throughout. Characters sing, dance, and workout, tender moments of affection or longing are felt through sound, and stories of the past and diagnoses of the human body's (mal)functions are evoked on the soundtrack.

Through field recordings, radio and television murmurs, Thai pop and traditional, electronic, ambient, diegetic and nondiegetic thought. When dialogue breaks out in these sonic episodes, it is confessional, wild and untamed. Secrets and tales of the past, yearning feelings—sound as a powerful and healing tool for cinema.

  1. Syndromes and a century (2006) excerpt 00:00
  2. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Reverberation (Syndromes and a Century / FAITH) Reverberations  01:40
  3. Blissfully Yours (2002) excerpt 06:40
  4. Blissfully Yours (2002) excerpt 11:20
  5. Syndromes and a Century (2006) excerpt 12:30
  6. Syndromes and a Century (2006) excerpt 14:40
  7. Mysterious Object at Noon (2000) excerpt 15:50
  8. Tropical Malady (2004) excerpt 17:16
  9. Tropical Malady (2004) excerpt 18:08
  10. Blue (2018) excerpt 21:44
  11. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010) excerpt 22:10
  12. Worldly Desires (2005) excerpt 27:18
  13. Tropical Malady (2004) excerpt 30:10
  14. Syndromes and a century (2006) excerpt 32:35
  15. Mekong Hotel (2012) excerpt 33:45
  16. Cactus River (2012) excerpt 41:45
  17. Tropical Malady (2004) excerpt 42:55
  18. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, For Tonight (For Tomorrow For Tonight) 45:15
  19. Mysterious Object at Noon (2000) excerpt 47:40
  20. Syndromes and a century (2006) excerpt 49:00
  21. Monsoon (2011) excerpt 54:10
  22. Fever Room (2015) excerpt 56:40
  23. Cemetery of Splendour (2015) excerpt 60:00
  24. Blissfully Yours (2002) excerpt 62:55
  25. Mysterious Object at Noon (2000) excerpt 64:12
  26. Cemetery of Splendour (2015) excerpt 68:40
  27. Tropical Malady (2004) excerpt 68:50
  28. The Anthem (2006) excerpt 71:53
  29. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Sharjah and Java (Sharjah and Java (Dilbar / Morse Beat Roar / Ablaze) 74:00
  30. The Adventures of Iron Pussy (2003) excerpt 87:30
  31. Tropical Malady (2004) excerpt 89:30
  32. Syndromes and a Century (2006) excerpt 92:30
  33. Mekong Hotel (2012) excerpt 104:00
  34.  Syndromes and a Century (2006) excerpt 107:00

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