Asian Dub Foundation present La Haine @ Howard Assembly Rooms, Leeds

Posted by vibrations on 11-03-16

As if the Howard Assembly Rooms wasn’t already one of Leeds’ most innovative venues for diverse music and art, tonight is a double helping of greatness as Asian Dub Foundation recreate their highly acclaimed score to Matthieu Kassowitz’s rasping, controversial drama La Haine. The project began life back in 2001, but was more recently revived in 2012 in collaboration with Secret Cinema for their Broadwater Farm Estate event on the eve of the London Mayoral elections and again on the eve of the French presidential elections. A film which depicts 24 hours in the lives of three young men living in the tough Paris banlieues, and explores feelings of social tension, youth disillusionment and urban violence , it has a recurrent relevance to date and is masterfully scored by ADF.
With a stripped-back set up of just guitar, effects, bass and drums, it’s inevitably a world away from your typical ADF gig, if such a thing indeed exists. Yet it’s undoubtedly filled with all the hallmarks of their sound, which blends reggae, dub, punk and jungle. For the non-French speaking member of the audience, the music tells the story and the accomplished soundtrack masterfully encapsulates the oscillating atmosphere from frantic rage, fuelled by the shooting of the trio’s friend by local police, to the wayward boredom of everyday urban banality.
There are tangible motifs for each of the main three characters which emerge throughout the film, in which ADF have adeptly captured the essence of each character; Vinz, fizzing with rage and seeking revenge upon the police is characterised by frenetic drum and bass, accompanying his thousand-mile-an-hour leap-before-you-look demeanour. Hubert, the most thoughtful of the three, quietly contemplates the hopelessness of life in his neighbourhood and silently plans his escape, with mellower dub and thoughtful guitar riffs. Said, who plays the part akin to a mischievous younger brother, has a more playful, upbeat reggae soundscape. 

The piece de resistance within the score is the treatment of Hubert’s line, "La Haine attire La Haine" (Hatred Breeds Hatred), in which layers of screaming feedback portray the climatic frustrations within Hubert’s mind. A perfectly chaotic score for a film of riotous energy. May the revivals long continue. 

Review by Katharine Hartley

On the Vibrations stereo...