If ever there was a potent time to release this masterfully crafted new soundtrack to the D.W. Griffith classic, Birth of a Nation, it would be now during the tumultuous rebuilding of post-George W. Bush America by its extraordinary protagonist Barack Obama. Oblique parallel lines could be drawn through the similarities of situation, except that the country is not fighting a civil war to – among other things – end slavery. However a sharply divided people and flare-ups of discrimination along racial lines, unpopular wars and a dramatic decline in civility towards the presidency might be a likely background for such a soundtrack to what DJ Spooky, the irreverent composer aka Paul D. Miller, calls the Rebirth of a Nation.
The Kronos Quartet seem to be a perfect fit for this musical adventure and the quartet seems to come to terms with DJ Spooky’s mindset as if they were one and the same brain. Their transcendent musicianship, a result of great empathy between the players, provides not just memorable accompaniment to the dramaturgy of Griffith’s visuals but also discreet, seductive and eloquent continuo for Spooky’s own musical instruments that remain stark and dominant throughout the unfolding visuals. Yes, visuals! The soundtrack is accompanied by a wonderfully produced DVD so it is possible to hear the music work in conjunction with the original silent moving picture as well. I like, also the laser-bright instrumentation by Spooky.