The Soundtrack

THE SOUNDTRACK: AUTUMN 2005

By • Oct 23rd, 2005 • Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

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A lot to catch up on this issue, so I’ll be brief (well, as brief as I can…). Oh, and don’t expect a roundup of the releases from the latest summer blockbusters. You know I like to dig a little deeper than that…

MIRRORMASK
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack composed by Iain Bellamy
La-la Land Records

I don’t care what the film is about. This is one of, if not THE most original, innovative, fascinating and downright glorious pieces of music I’ve ever heard recorded for film. From its original and surprising opening burst of accordion, straight out of the Yukon, which segues into some cool contemporary jazz accompanied by what would ordinarily be incongruous oriental motifs and terrific muted percussion, I thought ‘What the hell is this?’ And that thought continued throughout. From this it goes into a piece that could happily accompany a silent French farce, then a whirligig of themes including insanely discordant tangos interpolated with bossa-nova; flamenco jazz; electronics; more accordion; symphonic percussion; haunting, whispered vocals punctuated with echoing flute and resonant chimes; classical and vibrant Latin piano; mournful strings; touchingly sweet celesta; spine tingling cimbalom and sitar, and more and more, mostly of instruments and melodic structures that are blended together in such a way as to make them unidentifiable, but who cares. I gave up trying to analyse it after around 5 minutes. Never have I known such a diversity of styles, textures and instruments to be incorporated into one musical composition, and never have I known my ears to have been so wonderfully, and constantly, challenged and enormously entertained. It’s a stunning piece. If The Joker ever had a favourite album, this would be it.
Oh, my lovely assistant tells me that it accompanies a great fantasy film by Dave McKean based on a story and screenplay by graphic novel impresario Neil Gaiman, a film which I’m sure it enriches no end. But as I said – I don’t care. And so much for being brief. Sorry, I’m just no good at it…

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
Original Score by Howard Shore
New Line Records 39051

Oscar winner Howard Shore (LORD OF THE RINGS) scores this thriller from director David Cronenberg starring Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt and Ed Harris. This is a generally dark score with easily identifiable short cues that have been edited somewhat unsuccessfully into suites. Unlike his AVIATOR score, where he summoned a fresh approach to that of his LOTR scores, here Shore seems to have fallen back into Middle-Earth. Both the solemn and the brief lighter patches are reminiscent of those LOTR scores but without the grandiosity. Take all the heroic and apocalyptic stuff out of a LOTR soundtrack and you’d be left with this. A perfunctory score I’m afraid. Let’s hope he scores better (pun intended) with the upcoming KING KONG. Hey, talking of which:

KING KONG
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by John Barry
Film Score Monthly FSMCD Vol. 8, No. 8

In anticipation of this year’s Christmas holiday blockbuster, FSM have released the premiere CD recording of John Barry’s magnificent score for the 1976 remake of the classic tale. The movie itself was a let down for many, especially after the highly hyped special effects dept’s boasts of a 40 ft high robot Kong and effects by Carlo Rambaldi, where in fact Kong in the film is obviously played in the most part by an under acknowledged Rick Baker in a gorilla suit, plus a spectacular poster showing Kong straddling the two towers of the WTC, whereas in the film he leaps from one to the other. The film even earned a Golden Turkey Award from the Medved brothers in their ‘Biggest Rip-off in Hollywood History’ category. The score however is one of Barry’s best from the 70s, certainly with its love theme, which is one of his most cleverly convoluted and haunting, plus terrific tribal sounds and rhythms which are an exuberant extension of those he created for BORN FREE, ZULU and later OUT OF AFRICA, which all firmly put Barry’s stamp on the legend. This is a remastering of the original LP release with occasional bursts of (Kong) sound effects from the movie, a trend that was typical in the 70s when owning your own copy of the actual film was a sheer fantasy.
Although collectors may have acquired a CD of this title on the Mask label, that album was an unauthorized edition believed to be mastered from an LP – FSM’s release is the first official CD mastered from the original 1/4″ stereo album tapes. This is, at last, the first authorized CD of one of John Barry’s most memorable works outside the Bond cannon.

MYSTERIOUS SKIN
Music from the film by Harold Budd & Robin Guthrie
Commotion Records CR008

A controversial, edgy and disturbing film from writer/director Gregg Araki (SPLENDOR, THE DOOM GENERATION, NOWHERE) who seems to specialise in ‘exploring and dissecting the strange currencies of sexual relationships, this time the contemplative journey of troubled boyhood friends whose lives as young adults weave them down a slippery and dangerous path of self-discovery’ – at least that’s what the press release says. Composer Harold Budd previously worked alongside guitarist Robin Guthrie on several albums in the mid 1980’s, including the Cocteau Twins’ ‘The Moon and The Melodies’, and Budd’s ‘The White Arcades’. As lead guitarist of the Cocteau Twins, Guthrie was then creating a dreamy, layered guitar sound that impacted the indie rock scene, and inspired the sound of countless artists to follow. Here the two provide a minimalistic, meditative and ambient soundtrack. According to Araki ‘(Guthrie & Budd’s) music has been such an essential part of my life and such a profound influence on me and my work. I always listen to music when I write – as does Scott Heim, the author of the original novel Mysterious Skin – so this soundtrack is much, much more than mere background music: it’s the heart and soul of the whole movie’. And I agree. It’s entirely suited to the movie and not bad to listen to on it’s own if you’re in the right mood (and if you’re not, it’ll soon take you there).

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