Best Of 2012, Guest Editors: Barry Adamson On Noir

As 2012 comes to an end, we are taking a look back at some of our favorite posts of the year by our guest editors.

Barry Adamson is in a weird position. After winning acclaim for the noir-cinematic atmospheres of solo projects such as Moss Side Story and the mash-up of Back To The Cat, writing songs for directors such as Danny Boyle, Oliver Stone and David Lynch, and composing film scores for Delusion and Out Of Depth, the 53-year-old writer/multi-instrumentalist found himself directing, writing and acting in his own movie with 2011’s The Therapist. “I’m a marketing man’s nightmare,” he jokes. To make things more intense, Adamson—post-punk’s most legendary bassist, with roles in Magazine and Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds—returned to the scene of the live-music crime by playing gigs with Howard Devoto’s re-united Magazine after decades of being a lone wolf. What was he thinking? And how did all of that recent interaction inspire his newest project, the aggressive Destination? Read our new Q&A with him below. Adamson will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Adamson: Shadows and light and skewered angles. To paraphrase Wikipedia, film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood’s classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. Many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hardboiled school of crime fiction that emerged in the United States during the Depression.

Film noir encompasses a range of plots—the central figure may be a private eye (The Big Sleep), a plainclothes policeman (The Big Heat), an aging boxer (The Set-Up), a hapless grifter (Night And The City), a law-abiding citizen lured into a life of crime (Gun Crazy) or simply a victim of circumstance (D.O.A.). Though the noir mode was originally identified with American productions, films now customarily described as noir have been made around the world. Many pictures released from the 1960s onward share attributes with film noirs of the classic period, often treating noir conventions in a self-referential manner. Such latter-day works in a noir mode are often referred to as neo-noirs.

Most of my own work is built on the noir definition. From my first outing as a solo artist with the album Moss Side Story through to the 2008 award-winning short story Maida Hell, from the short story collection London Noir, the language of noir has guided me through a terrain of expression that sits quite comfortably and allows me to shape the work in the way I think it’s best expressed. My last album/film is a 40-minute noir, Therapist, which tells the story of Monika, a Polish immigrant searching for her sister, seen through the eye of Bigger, a wannabe filmmaker whose morose world view leads him to seek the help of a therapist, with grave consequences.

Video after the jump.