In what initially seemed a far cry from his blindingly infectious ’80 synth anthems, Thomas Dolby’s recent foray into filmmaking was showcased last night at the Trocadero with the local debut of his transvisual project Invisible Lighthouse. Equal parts documentary, X-Files mystery, and old time radio show, Dolby and foley artist Blake Leyh created a stunning live soundtrack to his film about a recently-decommissioned lighthouse near his childhood home in East Anglia, UK.
To Dolby, the lighthouse represented the ambiguities and importance of memory and place in our lives. Appropriately, Hidden City Philadelphia’s Nathaniel Popkin was invited on stage for a Q&A to further the discussion, during which Dolby was invited to visit Philadelphia’s own Turtle Rock Lighthouse on the Schuylkill River.
Following the chat, the crowd enthusiastically welcomed Dolby’s offer to play some tunes from his back catalog, interrupted only by some unfortunate technical glitches (he admitted the soundcheck had been terrible). Realizing he’d lost the drum tracks for his hit “Hyperactive!,” he proceeded to reprogram the song’s rhythm loop live on the spot by hand — revealing that Dolby’s work, however reliant upon technology, has always had an organic, human element to it — much like his film.
Back on track after resolving the issues with expected English charm and grace, he finished with a rousing rendition of his most famous hit — immediately prompting two gentlemen near the back of the venue to dance, continuously high-five, and yell “Science!” at all the right (and wrong) times.
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