Brain Pickings

13 Most Beautiful: Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests

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From Nico to Sonic Boom, or what black-and-white silent film has to do with pop art.

In 2008, the Andy Warhol Museum commissioned ex-Luna band members Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, now performing as Dean & Britta, to write and record 13 original scores and classic covers for Warhol’s little-known silent films, black-and-white portraits of cultural icons like Nico, Lou Reed, Edie Sedgwick, Ann Buchannan, Freddy Herko and Dennis Hopper, shot between 1964 and 1966. Dean & Britta promptly complied and, for the next 18 months, toured the world, performing the pieces in more than 50 venues, from New York’s Lincoln Center to the Sydney Opera House to a 15th-century cathedral in Paris.

This week, Dean & Britta are finally releasing their masterpieces as a two-disc record. 13 Most Beautiful: Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests is a deluge of rich guitar strums and dreamsome, melodic honey-vocals, with a kick of head-bobbing beats in just the right places. The album also features a handful of priceless covers, including The Velvet Underground’s Not a Young Man Anymore, and instant-classic remixes by Sonic Boom, Scott Hardkiss and My Robot Friend.

And while the music itself is already an absolute treat, the ultimate cherry on top is the accompanying limited-edition DVD, where you can ogle Warhol’s original screen tests — a haunting record of a cultural era that shaped modernity.

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