John Vanderslice’s Old Flame: “The Tree Of Wooden Clogs”

White Wilderness (Dead Oceans) is the latest album from the San Francisco-based John Vanderslice, and he’s joined on it by the classically trained Magik*Magik Orchestra. MMO artistic director Minna Choi arranged and conducted the Vanderslice-written music on the LP, which was recorded in a whirlwind three-day session by producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Walkmen, Bill Callahan). Vanderslice himself is no stranger to production, running the Tiny Telephone recording studio for 14 years and having produced records by the likes of Spoon and the Mountain Goats. Now he can add MAGNET guest editor to his resume, as that’s what he’s doing at all week. Read our brand new Q&A with him.

Vanderslice: The Tree Of Wooden Clogs is a neo-realist masterpiece released in 1978 by Ermanno Olmi. If you haven’t seen many of his films, you should start with his early-’60s stunners, Il Posto and I Fidanzati. The Tree Of Wooden Clogs is shot with nonprofessional actors, and it’s clear from the intimacy and naturalism of the relationships that Olmi completely immersed himself in this village for years. It’s as pure and patient as a Maysles brothers‘ documentary. It’s not in Italian, but in Bergamasque, an Eastern Lombard dialect. The film sounds and looks completely original. Olmi wrote, photographed and edited the film. It is a tremendous achievement and one of the most surprising and original films I’ve seen.

Video after the jump.