Flights of Helios
‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’ by Lotte Reiniger
Original Live Score
“Fantastic … worth keeping your ears peeled for”
– Drowned in Sound
“The performance was a triumph, and an intriguing way for one of Oxford’s
current leading lights to stretch their creative muscles”
– Oxfordshire Music Scene (review of Pitt Rivers Achmed Debut)
“Their new take on an old classic works brilliantly”
– Oxford Mail (review of Pitt Rivers Achmed Debut)
Oxford space-pop/shoegaze quintet Flights of Helios combine spiralling, caustic electronica with reverb-drenched post-rock guitar drones and heart-stopping vocals. In March 2014 at Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum Flights of Helios took their sound on an Eastern exploratory tangent, debuting their specially composed original live score to The Adventures of Prince Achmed by Lotte Reiniger, the oldest surviving animated feature film which premiered in Germany on 23 September 1926. Following further performances at the Ashmolean Museum and Modern Art Oxford the band are taking select bookings for future performances.
Charlotte ‘Lotte’ Reiniger was born in Berlin in 1899. Inspired by her childhood obsession with Chinese silhouette puppets and the magical trick films of George Méliès, The Adventures of Prince Achmed tells the story of a young royal who is tricked by a wicked sorcerer into flying a magical horse to far-away lands. Having taken three years to complete, London’s literati received the chance to view the film on 8 May 1927, at a London Film Society screening.
Fast-forward to 2013 and Dr Cleo Hanaway-Oakley, Knowledge Exchange Facilitator and Early Cinema scholar at the University of Oxford commissioned Flights of Helios to compose a new score for a special performance of Prince Achmed at the Pitt Rivers Museum. The event, which involved academic input from across the University and showcased the museum’s shadow puppet collection, was generously funded through an ASPIRE Arts Council Innovation Fund grant.
Taking their inspiration from the Man of Arran live soundtrack by British Sea Power as well as the psychedelic explorations of The Flaming Lips, Flights of Helios spent many hours playing along to the film, working with Arabic and Byzantine scales as well as introducing tabla, dhol and mandolin to their existing setup of warped vocals, synths, programming and live rhythm section, combining all these disparate elements to create a rich, flowing tapestry of simultaneously ancient and modern sounding musical narratives and soundscapes.
Flights of Helios have performed at many of the major UK music festivals, including filling a prestigious slot for BBC Introducing at Glastonbury Festival, and have released a string of critically acclaimed singles including Factory and Succubus. The Prince Achmed live score follows closely Flights of Helios’s mission statement of creating new and challenging music with a big heart and, with their debut album well on the way to completion, Flights of Helios continue to go from creative strength to strength.
For bookings email firstname.lastname@example.org – your message will be sent to the band and Seb at Pindrop Publicity.
Video credit: Liam Martin – www.liammartinfilm.com
Photo credit: Hannah Wilmshurst