Kurt Frausun describes “Peacock,” his new shortish feature, as telling a story of an artist in search of his muse, but this narrative will not be readily apparent to most viewers. The film has continuous music in an industrial/electronic style, accompanied by a psychedelic and kaleidoscopic collage, and feels mostly like an extended dose of eye and ear candy. But well-made candy can be very enjoyable, when you are in the mood for it.
Frausun’s music layers noisy synthesizer lines, with little conventional harmony, over jagged drum lines, with little conventional meter. His control over harmonic and rhythmic language sounds a little haphazard, as he pulls in and out of effective musical textures at random. There are also vocals throughout, but Frausun clearly is not interested in lyrics, as he mixes the distorted voices in such a way that, listening for an hour on good speakers, I was unable to distinguish more than a couple of words. The music is often energetic and occasionally almost dancey, giving most of the film a feeling of momentum and anticipation.
The dense visual collages which make up the film usually include shifting backdrops, often made from archaic or alchemical symbols. There is generally a central figure wearing a white mask, whether male or female, slowly twisting into forms like a punk/industrial parody of a Bharata Natyam dancer. Constantly shifting textures of dots, rose petals, clouds, etc., add to the visual density. Explicit sexual imagery woven into the textures adds a feeling of intoxication and adventure.
The good news is that Frausun has decent artistic skills. His colors are unusual and create an exciting, dynamic balance. He occasionally uses the density to cover up a lack of visual refinement, but he has an excellent sense of how to layer many things together without creating a mush, and his visual rhythm keeps the eye pleasantly surprised and occupied. Frausun is certainly no perfectionist. The whole film, both music and images, are weakened by a sense that he stops working on them whenever he achieves effects that seem “pretty good.” All the transitions, edges and details are poorly done; nothing is pushed to the point where it becomes exquisite or thrillingly perfect.
“Peacock” does not promise the viewer ideas, emotions, or revelations, and it does not deliver these things. In the category of films which excite the eye and the ear, without unduly disturbing the heart, the spirit and the mind, “Peacock” does pretty well, and can provide enjoyable viewing and listening for an hour. Personally, I would love to see Frausun take his considerable visual talents, and push himself, in his next project, to do something much more artistically ambitious and visually refined.