Turnage Blood on the Floor
The title comes from a painting by Francis Bacon (whose distinctive facial features are bizarrely recalled in the composer’s own), while the music ranges widely in its references and allusions. Ten years on, Blood on the Floor remains Turnage’s magnum ‘fusion’ opus. With a raw expressive energy fuelled by the loss of his brother to a drugs overdose, the composer’s gift for sour melody and guttural sonority has never been deployed to better effect.
The body of this DVD release is a live performance taped in Frankfurt’s Alte Oper during the same premiere tour that yielded a CD recording (Decca, 5/98R). The concert was presumably intended for low-fi TV broadcast and consists of the usual series of close-ups of instrumentalists edited to the music. The technique is less irksome here than in many such outings; it highlights the breathtaking artistry of the multifarious musicians involved, genuinely conveying a charged atmosphere.
Sound quality is good if not quite up to the standard of the audio equivalent; there are some perplexing moments when the camera focuses on an instrument barely audible in the mix. More happily, John Scofield is shown creating something wonderful from the simple melody of ‘Elegy for Andy’, while Peter Erskine’s sotto voce drum solos in ‘Crackdown’ are astonishing.
Extras include an unrevealing introduction shot during rehearsals and the more welcome inclusion of two encores, arrangements of pieces by Erskine and Scofield which prefigure Turnage’s recent Scorched project (DG, 2/04).