||The Broadway smash “STOMP” is internationalized in this large screen IMAX offering, which takes the power of rhythm beyond the confines of urban America and celebrates it worldwide; the result is a colorful, vibrant introduction to a universal human impulse, lushly photographed and beautifully recorded. “Pulse,” subtitled “A STOMP Odyssey,” showcases percussion groups world-wide, from the New York-based STOMPers doing their thing on a large tenement set that looks like something out of an extra-large stage version of “West Side Story” to Native American dancers in Colorado, the Winchester Cathedral bell-ringers, Spanish flamenco artist Eva Yerbabuena, the Japanese Kodo drummers, Indian paraders and soloist Shafaatullah Khan, African drummers and choral dancers, and a Brazilian carnival group; the Stomp crew shows up periodically, clanging on cans underwater or making a kind of music as they ride along deadpan on bikes in the desert, honking the horns and sounding the bells. There’s also a “duel” between the percussion sections of two marching-bands on the Brooklyn Bridge. Linking all the sequences together are some vocal “percussion” riffs, mostly featuring STOMP’s Keith Middleton; there’s no narration, but the groups are briefly introduced with captions, and the closing credits provide more elaborate descriptions of them.
Much of your reaction to “Pulse” will depend on your liking for the basic concept, which the makers follow through on rigorously to express the universality of the rhythmic impulse in humankind. The groups are all exuberant--my favorites are the Cat-in-the-Hat Brazilian drummers Carlinhos Brown, Timbalada & Os Zarabe, but others will feel differently--and the sound picture is beautifully caught. The photography by Christophe Lanzenberg and James Neiulhouse is crisp and clear, but unfortunately they show a penchant for camera movement which--like the editing of dances in so many musicals nowadays (just think of “Chicago”)--makes it difficult, if not impossible, to appreciate the routines as a whole. Still, enough of the verve remains to induce a lot of toe-tapping.
And it’s a nifty travelogue, too.