A rare programme of Felix the Cat animated shorts accompanied by a live performance of a specially re-scored soundtrack by Sean O’Hagan & The High Llamas.
At Cork Film Festival, Triskel Christchurch Book tickets
In its time, Felix The Cat was easily the world’s most famous animated cartoon. The best Felix cartoons depicted a world in which nothing was ever quite as it seemed. Everything had an edge and Felix straddled the excesses of the swinging jazz era and the innocence of cinematic cartoons with consummate ease. Loved for more than 75 years, Felix The Cat is a classic in the truest sense of the word and for every episode that contains an eye-popping narrative audacity there is another that depicts the equally startling simplistic innocence of the age in which Felix ruled.
The genesis of the idea for this programme came about in 2010 when our Director Nag Vladermersky approached Sean O’Hagan from the sublimely melodic prop group The High Llamas to ask if he would be interested in improvising a live soundtrack onstage to the 1920’s animated short films of Felix the Cat. Sean was interested but it has taken almost 3 years to get this idea up and running. We are indebted to the Cork Film Festival for turning this idea into a reality and helping us see through our vision. In bringing this very special programme of rare cartoon episodes to the screen, LIAF has to make special mention of the incredible hospitality and generosity of Colin Cowes: enthusiast, collector, living encyclopedia – and walking, talking reminder of why we do what we do.
The High Llamas
The High Llamas may have started in 1991. The idea was to make melodic pop in opposition to the dull grunge obsessed UK and US orthodoxy of the early 90′s. The starting point was Santa Barbara, harmony, 12 string guitars and Alex Chilton, very straight forward melodic pop but it was soon unseated by the gothic garage sweetly psyched Gideon Gaye, a budget record which sounded lo-fi but time trapped. The guitars were replaced by string quartets and the harmonies took over. The Beach Boys, Ornette Coleman and Jimmy Webb were looking in at this point as well as Robert Wyatt. By now the band had a following and a record company. The strings were accompanied by loose brass as Carla Bley, John Barry and Bernard Herman were added to the list of influences and the ridiculously long Hawaii gained fans all over the world. Cold and Bouncy did pretty much the same business but there was a welcomed electronic presence as well as vibes and marimba. The band had always flirted with the Brazilian song form from Samba to Tropicalia and this became evident on Snowbug – a record that was both loose and texturally different from its predecessors. The High Llamas started to record for Duophonic and Drag City from here on, starting out with Buzzle Bee but quickly moving onto the serene and almost muted orchestral vibe of Beet, Maize and Corn 2003. 2007 saw the release of the melodic and slightly soulful chimes of Can Cladders and in 2011 the band’s latest offering Talahomi Way.
Along the way the band provided music for the US feature Sunburn in 2000 and plenty of other collaborations. Over the last 5 years, Sean has teamed up with Tim Gane of Stereolab to write and produce the soundtracks for French feature filmmaker Marc Fitoussi.