The Adventures of Prince Achmed

Cover design by Keith Lobue

This CD contains music that was composed as a soundtrack which is performed live with the The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) by Lotte Reiniger, a silent silhouette animation, considered by many to be the first feature length animated film, and based upon One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales often known in English as The Arabian Nights. The music, which when performed with the film comprises a continuous score of 65 minutes, is here broken into individual tracks. It is performed live by a quartet of soprano sax, trombone, and two keyboards, against a pre-recorded track of samples, loops and live drums.

Phillip Johnston has been composing and performing original scores for silent films for 25 years. His previous silent film scores include The Unknown (Browning, 1927), The Merry Frolics of Méliès (Méliès, 1902-1909), Page of Madness (Kinugasa, 1926), Faust (Murnau, 1926), the first three of which have been previously released on CD. Wordless!, his collaboration with graphic artist Art Spiegelman, is also a variant on this kind of work. The film and music have been performed across Australia, including the Sydney VIVID Festival, MONA FOMA and the Woodford Folk Festival. As of this writing it has yet to be performed overseas.

Prince Achmed musicians at Royal Theatre/MONA FOMA

Phillip Johnston: soprano saxophone
James Greening: trombone
Alister Spence: organ, keyboards
Casey Golden: organ, keyboards
+Nic Cecire: drums

“Johnston’s soundtrack adds an extra dimension to the 2D-nature of the animation, with energetic jazz layered over the pre-recorded percussion track that builds up and flows through the film. While Johnston and Reineger’s compositions are each complex in their own ways, they come together simply and beautifully, stripping animation back to its abstract qualities of light, shadow, image and sound.”

–Anna Madeleine, The Guardian, 2015 (MONA FOMA)