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Malaikat Dan Singa

I’d first met Arrington De Dionyso a few years earlier, during the filming of a series of (bad) films shot in Manhattan. We’d spent a fair bit of time together, and our paths crossed on a few occasions, he with his excellent, lyrical French and his overwhelmingly good humour. We often saw him in Paris with his project Old Time Relijun, who with the years had gained cult status.

Last August, I decided to take a break, to slow down the rhythm at which I’d been filming – I convinced myself I wouldn’t film anything for a few weeks. I was reaching my limit, after a film a week for the past 3 or 4 years. I’d gone to Seattle, an unfriendly city, and Arrington had invited me to spend some time with him in Olympia. It was just to the south, and I was curious to feel the strange energy of the small northwestern town, so well known for its music scene (K Records, Kill Rock Stars, amongst others.)

It had been a few months since he’d given me his new album, called Malaikat Dan Singa. I don’t remember how exactly it arrived but it sounded, to put it gently, strange. And then Alan Bishop of the Sun City Girls gave me the lowdown – love had sent him off the deep end.

The thing was: Arrington was in love with a woman who had been in Indonesia for several months. The rumours said that he had promised to seduce her upon her return, and had learnt Indonesian for the occasion. The intention was to sing her love songs in Indonesian, but Arrington’s musical baggage was much more complex, and he couldn’t help but build twisted rhythms, guttural voices, and scenic rituals, to bring forth a monster, a modern monster. I had warned Arrington, ‘Don’t expect me to make a film for you just because you’re letting me crash on your sofa for a night – it’s impossible, I’m too tired’. It took him less than three minutes to announce that the band would start in an hour, and that we might as well entertain ourselves. Hell. I knew it would end like this, and God only knows that sometimes we just don’t want to film.

But God also knows that, sometimes, it’s good to let yourself be convinced. It’s not every day that we have the chance to film music’s future.