The final chess move for the latest Excavation Series batch marks a slight shift in format and experience. Here, we restore Pablo Picco’s poetic masterfilm Kalinga Utkal on DVD, a chronicle of his travels to India and Nepal with María Victoria Arener in February of 2012.
The film is much more than a structuralist series of events in biological order, it’s equal parts documentary, beatific meditation in free verse and personal psychedelic journey with all the surrealistic flourishes necessary to erase the ego, we’re let in on the awakening, through thick and thin, where the body loses touch with the mind, and the mind runs off from the body, and the chants (like breaths) return the whole unscathed, yet changed. Two-things-at-once, the recurring theme throughout.
Hear cows sour on the day’s light in moaning existentialism, see children battle with prepubescent mystery, feel the trains and moving crescendo in elliptical filmmaking bliss, edits and decisions rife with spontaneity and involving artistry, each move like the hands on an instrument, teasing out production and wonder, it’s manic-explorative and relaxed at the same time.
Move through the pilgrimage of chapters, jump cut from place to place, sit alongside monks. Walk with the processions down the trails, careen across land filled with animals and ceremony. Tiny snapshots in long takes drive the mood home, stay calm in a changing world, progress blowing away like smoke, replacement parts and ideas around every corner, but hold still before you concede to it, reflect first on life happening in the smallest of ways before each millisecond collects the next and builds into more booming possibility. Hold the shot first, let it go, move on, hard edit to the next. Hard edges padded in decorative cloth, meaning and purpose is seen in every direction, on and off camera, softening images juxtaposed against rugged exteriors.
There’s a childlike discovery texturally braided in the events, that improvising eye, the all-eye improvising, we’re carried along in sweeping landscape image continuation, a continuum of squeaks and whistles and echoes and natural reverb and knocking confusing sounds encircling dead-eye framed liveliness, acts of the day taking on new ballad-like presence, the initiated original soundtrack stirring inside the field recorded rituals and buzzing real-life musical interludes captured in full along the way. The real life things are the coin’s underside attached to the top’s dreamlike additional experimentation things, non-fiction coming up for fictional air, or vice versa, flip the coin.
The duality of discovery, through the self and through the voyeuristic ‘watching’ too, being a part of the shot – even when outside it, hallucinating the self into scenes imagined, the narrative is cut off from any linear end-points, there’s no clues to any beginning or end, and like any time-stamp from any part of the ever-evolving world, the lapping, rippling scenes wash away if ‘watched’ or not. The study is part Picco and part non-Picco, everything can be confronted in both ways: either immersive full-on acid-taking eagerness or by the simple act of making one as invisible as possible. Each phase needs the other, a two-lined poem, first line breathe in, second line breathe out.
The soundtrack alone is worth the price of admission, it’s included on the DVD disc and as a standalone digital album:
OST Kalinga Utkal – Dos Estatuas Se Abrazn y Lloran
Interestingly, Picco has released a tape of field recordings taken from this same group of travels released on the More Mars label from Greece, The Bombastic and Repetitive Sound of Tashi Ling Buddhas in Pokhara, Nepal. He is a member of the Argentinian experimental drone group Ø+yn and records under the solo name Bardo Todol. We recommend tracking that tape down to complete the total vision and we recommend exploring the different sound worlds available from his many enlightened musical projects.
The film was released and only available online at the beginning of 2017, so we have helped put the final coat of paint on and to give it a proper format home, and we thank Pablo for his strong work on the collaboration for such a wonderful edition coming to life now. We gladly took the backseat to let Picco nail down the proper DVD that matches his full vision.
So I’ll stop writing now, please grab the film and carve out a very lucky 90 minutes of your time, you will be rewarded, and we can discuss it further as we ramble about its greatness ad infinitum once we’re all caught up. We love this film.
We hope to continue to branch out with other formats as we go, we can never really know what kind of gold will show up in the pans once it’s been dug out and shaken. We go in the direction of where we’re pointed to.
From all of us, we hope you enjoy the film and will want a copy. The DVD was professionally-duplicated in an edition of 100 copies, and this package will be a treasure to stack on your library shelves as we do the same. The DVD and musical soundtrack is bundled with Excavation Series 12 & 13 too, so head over to Bandcamp for the full three-part package if that floats your boat. We hope it does.