La Prochaine Fois: An Ambient Road Movie is a
film by Riz Malen, who records music as Neotropic. This is,
i think, her film debut. And, well, it's interesting. I guess.
It's less of a movie and more of a long video. That is to say,
rather than telling a story this is series of visual images
designed to accompany music. I would say that the music and
the images work pretty well together, but i am really curious
as to which came first. Did Neotropic record an album and then
decide to make a film to go along with it, or did Malen shoot
all of this footage and then compose some tunes to accompany
Apparently, the footage was filmed by Riz Malen and Brian Dougans
(yes, that's Brian Dougans from F.S.O.L., who is spending his
time joyriding across America rather than working on the follow
up to Dead Cities....) while they were taking
some sort of journey. Apparently across the US. I think. It's
kinda hard to tell at times.
At any rate, it's a pretty cool video to accompany ambient
music. There aren't really any vocals, and the music doesn't
really tell a story, so pairing it with these images forces
a type of narrative to come into being. It's as if the overlap
between the storyless music and the unconnected imagery causes
some sort of mood to come into being.
Actually, that sounds about right. Rather than conveying a
story, the combination of sounds and images causes a sequence
of moods in the viewer/listener. At first, the mood is excited,
nervous, as the journey begins. Then there are phases of monotony
(looped sequences, the boredom of travel), excitement, terror,
There are lots of images of the scene from a car window travelling
through America. At some point, Malen and Dougans cross I-90
amd I-20. I think that i have been on I-90, but I-20 -- it stretches
forever! Heck, Tracers lives off of I-20, but it also stretches
through Dallas. Basically, i have no idea where they were. They
did not make a point of filming those "Welcome To..." signs.
And i think that it doesn't matter. The specifics of the location
are irrelevant. What's important are the images of everyday
life that Neotropic has paired with her vaguely futuristic music.
Which is what struck me as odd while i watched the film. Having
listened to previous Neotropic releases i would have guessed
that the imagery in this film to be science-fiction. Neotropic's
music makes me think of imagery like that in Blade Runner,
a dark future of huge incomprehesible industrial structures.
Instead, the music is paired with scenes of everyday America.
A Days Inn. Cars on the Highway. People milling around a town
square. It's an odd juxtaposition.
But the music is what makes the scenes. For example, there
is a very eerie song called Rote that features deep rumbling
keys, minor organ chords, and staccato breath samples. This
is paired with images of people rollerblading in a park at sunset.
The otherwise idyllic scene is made dark and creepy by the music.
As if one of the rollerbladers is going to pull out a gun and
One other thing to note is the filming technique. This movieappears
as if it was filmed using one of those little hand-held camcorders.
The shots are all jerky and fuzzy. It is Attention Deficit Disorder
filming -- things jerk around and a new image appears before
your eyes have fully explored the last image. I find it kind
of disorienting, but i think that the point is that you only
get a vague visual impression and focus mostly on the music.
And if you do that, it's nice enough. Neotropic manages to
pull it off.
One problem i had with it was that the movie comes on the second
CD of the 2CD release of the album. So i had to watch it on
my laptop, which is unsatisfying. Heck, i have a nice 21 inch
TV for watching stuff -- why would i want to be staring at this
The movie is shot in widescreen, which makes me wonder if it
was ever released in theatres. Maybe if i had a DVD release
it would be cooler.... A minor complaint, i know, but there
If you are a fan of ambient music, i recommend trying to track
down the 2CD set of this album. The film is a very nice added