on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2018 21 Sep

Favourite soundtracks for films unseen

von: Ian McCartney Filed under: Blog | TB | 1 Comment

Two soundtracks I enjoy listening to frequently are White Bird In A Blizzard by Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie, and Le Grand Bleu by Eric Serra. The deep enjoyment of these soundtracks means that approaching the films isn’t something I’m in any hurry to do, because I’d be too busy listening to the music to concentrate on the film, and in any case, the music has already conjured up a kind of amorphous non-narrative film of its own for each of these soundtracks.

White Bird In A Blizzard is an astounding listen, every single time I hear it. The record’s compositions vary between those written solely by either artist, with only a couple that were co-written by both. The opening track (by Guthrie) sets the scene. If music could sound cold and luminous to the point of being able to see and feel it, then this is an example. But (perhaps counter-intuitively) the effect is warm rather than cold, not unlike watching snow falling outside, through a window: the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

Le Grand Bleu is a longer record, with more thematic variety. Sure, there’s all the watery bits with all the mystery and danger you’d expect, but there are also moments back on dry land – the contrast giving the impression that neither state is ideal, even if one is preferred. Serra’s compositions are brilliantly textured – maybe a bit 1980s sounding, but in a cool way. Two killer tracks here are Homo Delphinus and Much Better Down There, both of which hint at an emotional depth I can only hope the celluloid actually provides.

As for films I have actually seen, well 37°2 le matin by Gabriel Yared is about as good as it gets. Or Blade Runner by Vangelis. Then of course there’s film music for films that don’t even exist – such as Brian Eno’s „From the Same Hill“ and The Durutti Column’s „For A Western“. But that’s a whole ’nother blog.

This entry was posted on Freitag, 21. September 2018 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Comment

  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    I will never forget favourite singers who appeared out of nowhere in the soundtrack of a film.

    In old times you didn‘t have so much infomation available in advance, and you didn‘t care anyway, so going to a movie could contain a lot of surprises.

    Yesterday on the blog, the „filmplakat“ of Werner Herzog‘s FATA MORGANA. I only saw it once, in 1974 or 5, and it was a fantastic experience, unforgettable that instant when Leonard there had his apparition as a singer. I only knew and loved his songs from records, and intimate rooms with candle lights, haha, thus it opened another horizon. AMERICAN DESERTS!!!!! Or African ones?! Cohen also was the troubadour in the Western movie MC CABE AND MRS MILLER. Great dark Altman.

    When it comes to music for imaginary films, Brian Eno‘s MUSIC FOR FILMS is, for me, unsurpassable. And it turns 40 next week. And it will get a decent amount of timeliness within the last hour of my next radio night.

    You have to think hard when it comes to those twelve albums you really want to take with you to a really fucking lonely desert island. Imagine you have to stay there for years – so I at least wouldn‘t get lucky with otherwise beloved albums like PINK MOON or Jacques Brel‘s last one with him dying under a blue sky. No, no, no, no. Music by Beethoven or Messiaen would open my prvate suicide zones, honestly.

    My list of twelve fucking awesome records (the happy dozen) for an (oh so deserted) desert island would have to work as „anti-depressiva“, constantly elevating the mood, and the list would look like this:

    1) Brian Eno Music for films
    2) The Beatles White album
    3) A Louis Armstrong album
    4) Sonny Rollins Way out west
    5) Jethro Tull Aqualung
    6) Culture: Two Sevens Clash
    7) The Kinks Village green preservation society
    8) Keith Jarrett: A multitude of angels (Torino Concert)
    9) Joni Mitchell: The hissing of summer lawns
    10) Fela Kuti: Zombie
    11) Donovan: Wear Our love like heaven
    12) Steve Tibbetts: Big Map Idea (i could even re-read my own liner notes on this one, haha)

    A propos Donovan and that vinyl, old blog entry:

    On an island like Amrum, in a remote forest area (you can always find quiet places in the biggest holiday resorts), it’s easy to complete your desert island collection. Some time ago, I found a Speakers Corner reissue of an album from the summer of love, and, to my own surprise, though not containing any of his great hits, it immediately turned to my favourite Donovan album. And I really own some of his lovingly eccentric deliveries of hope, peace and shangrilas. Helas! When the album came out, our folkie from the Scottish hinterland stopped drugs and turned to meditation. Someone who got similarly impressed by this album, „could almost smell the patchouli incense wafting from his flower-draped recording studio.“ He had a real band playing behind him, harpsicord, B3 organ, bongos, acoustic guitar, flutes – and strings carefully dosed. What really catches me, draws me in everytime, above everything else, is the nonchalance of his singing style, all heartfelt, smiling, with an unashamed sense of optimism. Fucking genius. He‘s „there“, in the moment, no cliche, and the songs are so painfully short, I always feel a shade of sadness when the fade-out is mercilessly ending an atmosphere. I would like so much immersing myself into endless jams of every single song and their stunning variety of moods of naivety, innocence and yearning. But, this way, they never wear out their beauty and make you think: in a life where we will all turn to dust and ashes in the end, with no god in sight, no bardo to be expected, no coming back ever, leaving the ones we love shattered in tears and pain: love is the first, and shortness the second essence of life.

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