Short Directed by Dan Canyon

Music + Sound Design

It was great to have the opportunity to work on this as the link between food and sound / music has long fascinated me.

The project was all about communicating intimacy and the curiosity that underpins their approach. The experience is built around a proximity to food, process and origin, challenging expectations and senses along the way. As a guest you watch the food being made and assembled, chef's table style, while chatting to the people who are making it. There is plenty of skillful experimentation and play. You have no idea what you will be eating so if you are of a curious disposition, it is a joy to see it come together.

So how do you bring this intimacy to a film about the experience?

The answer lay in trying to flatten the distance between food, image, sound and people. I recorded the ambience of the spaces and the actions of the chefs while we were filming, and the Mãos team had been kind enough to invite Dan the director and myself for service there one evening which proved to be pivotal in undersanding what they wanted to communicate, the important touchpoints - what Mãos means, and how we might approach it.

The sound of the bowls is distinctive, and kitchens are such sonic delights that there was planty to draw from. We wanted to mirror the experimental nature of the food and its preparation with the details we chose to focus on and the manipulation of sound without being too overt.

And then there are the people, both those who prepare and serve you and the other guests - all of whom sit around a communal table.

The overall feeling of being there is of controlled experimentation and playfulness that is moulded by precision, utmost care and attention to detail, and a desire to bring people together.

So the action of eating from the bowls feature sonically. For the music I've used a bolon - an African instrument that has a very tactile, earthy quality, a harmonised harpischord, an Esraj, an indian bowed instrument, a couple of synths and a wine bottle. The bolon is played as though it wants to run away from the track, speeding up and slowing down slightly, it was important to communicate a sense of playfulness and chaos within structure.

Finally, inspired by a friend's childhood memories of listening in on late night conversations of dinner parties downstairs, and the duality of excitement and safety it creates, the piece finishes with a subtle reference to that. Because there is only one sitting at the restaurant each evening there is no time pressure to move on, so the same quality happens at Mãos where candelit silhouettes dance on the walls as conversations continue and the evening draws to an end.