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Electronica Meets Russian Cinema

LOS ANGELES: DJ Spooky, Amon Tobin, Cut Chemist, and more go back to the U.S.S.R.

The Disney Concert Hall, home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was transformed into a Soviet discotheque Saturday night (May 26) for Pravda, an eclectic evening of remixed Russian classical pieces layered over spliced Stalin-era films. As a ten-piece theremin orchestra delivered a dramatic rendition of Bach’s infamous “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” Pravda’s exploration of Stalinism’s impact on Russian music rattled the chest cavities of both savvy club goers and classical music patrons alike with five hours of pounding bass.

Kiev-born DJ Alex Ratushnyak kicked off the night of multimedia mash-ups with an upbeat and highly danceable set of U.S. and Russian pop music, blended with visuals of tearful communists and animated children. J-Rocc and Peanut Butter Wolf showed off their killer turntable skills, too, mixing The Simpsons theme into a symphonic masterpiece, complete with blips of Portishead and Snoop Dogg and obscure Russian chants.

After the slightly quieter organ-based theremin interlude (led by German organist Christoph Bull), Cut Chemist took the stage to deliver a blistering set, which combined electric harp, Star Wars, and Stravinsky. And if anyone could be awarded the loudest performance of the evening, it would be Brazilian mixer/producer Amon Tobin, who yoked found sounds, atmospheric IDM, and operatic arias to create a collage so lush and powerful, it made the walls shake. Turntablist extraordinaire DJ Spooky closed the evening with expertly mixed beats and Russian drama Battleship Potemkin with an essay explaining how the power of one’s government affects its people.

Pravda, surely a smorgasbord of diverse, politically-charged sound, was an evening where artists all seemed to understand what a privilege it was to be reworking Stalin-era classical music in such a famed hall. Such a list of hosts enjoyed the honor of reassembling and electrifying the eardrums of every member in the unexpectedly diverse full house. SARA TORELLO / PHOTOS BY JESS LEE

We asked: If you could remix any music or film, what would you choose?