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Domenique DumontThe Leaf Label
People On Sunday
Released: 27th November 2020
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Limited White Vinyl
People On Sunday is an original soundtrack to the 1930 silent film variously known as Menschen am Sonntag, Les Hommes le Dimanche and People On Sunday. The film is a key work of interwar German cinema, based on a screenplay by Billy Wilder. Like Domenique Dumont’s earlier albums, Comme Ça (2015) and Miniatures De Auto Rhythm (2018 - both for the Antinote label), People On Sunday evokes a more innocent, carefree time conjured by wistful electronics full of warmth and melody. Touching on the hazy exotica that made those two records so alluring, here Dumont draws on his love of classical music, library music and early electronic experimentation to create a timeless sound.
Domenique Dumont was invited to compose the score for a special screening and live performance at the Les Arcs Film Festival in the French Alps in December 2019. Although conceived as a soundtrack, People On Sunday flows beautifully as an album. If his past productions possessed a certain Mediterranean quality, across these 13 new pieces Dumont’s shimmering synth-pop has an enchanting simplicity.
“The main challenge for me when working with a movie this old was to find a sweet spot in the sound so it doesn’t become a pastiche of retro and at the same time is in harmony with the film. Sound-wise, it was more about removing than adding, constantly pushing back the sound to more simple forms, resulting in something that I’d call my ode to sine waves. Working with a moving picture is always great – it immediately shows you what sound works and what doesn’t.”
Part documentary, part fiction, the film People On Sunday is an important moment in the German New Objectivity movement, which was a reaction to Expressionism. Loosely scripted, it follows a group of characters going about their business in Weimar-era Berlin over one weekend and shows normal life in Germany before dictatorship.
“The film shows people and their surroundings shortly before all of it was destroyed,” says Dumont, who has previously composed for film. “Ironically, watching this movie with the eyes of today, it looks more surreal than documentary. And I can’t help but think and reflect about the times we are living in now. We might have similar desires people had a hundred years ago, but we now have a completely different approach to life.
“Working on this score strengthened my belief that the time we currently live in, although far from perfect, might be the best time to be alive. All the bells and whistles, all the advantages that we have the opportunity to enjoy in the 21st century, are things people couldn’t have dreamt of only a hundred years ago. At the same time, we haven’t yet transformed away from our sense of humanity. As absurd and optimistic as it may sound, we are living in a utopia compared it to what came before and, perhaps, what is to come. Somehow this movie made me think of the present more than the past.”