Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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I compiled yet another CD, this time a look at how world music has effected the modern film score. When a film needs to evoke a specific locale, or at least give off an element of exotica, often a composer will turn to non-Western musical idioms. I put together a disc consisting of what I consider to be some of the most effective as a music listening experience. The disc only runs about 60 minutes, but it is concise and has some of my best edits. The transition from Zbigniew Preisner's main title from The Secret Garden seamlessly flows into Alan Silvestri's Predator 2 end title. Suites from scores I edited appear as single tracks, so that two cues from Graeme Revell's Dune score ("The Fremen Village" and the last part of "Taking Jamis' Water/Sandworm Riding") blend perfectly into one another.

The Farthest Reaches
World Influences on Modern Film Music


Side One

1. Journey (Mountains of the Moon) 1:13
Orchestra: The Graunke Symphony
Conductor: Allan Wilson
Percussion: Foday Muso Suso/Gordon Gottlieb/"Crusher" Bennett

2. Harry's Bullshit (The Tailor of Panama) 8:38
Orchestra: The Irish Film
Conductor: Fiachra Trench
Guitars: Des Moore
Percussion: Noel Eccles
Keyboards: Shaun Davey

3. Susan: Assassin (Alien Nation: Take Over) 0:58
Keyboards/Programming/Choral Direction: David Kurtz

4. Shai-Hulud (Children of Dune) 3:18
Orchestra: The City of Prague Philharmonic
Conductor: Adam Klemens
Percussion/Exotic Instrumentation: Brian Tyler

5. The Outer Provinces (Gladiator) 5:04
Orchestra: The Lyndhurst
Conductor: Gavin Greenaway
Guitars: Heitor Pereira
Duduk: Djivan Gasparyan
Keyboards/Programming: Hans Zimmer

6. India (The Secret Garden) 3:28
Orchestra: The Sinfonia Varsovia
Conductor: Wojciech Michniewski

7. End Title (Predator 2) 5:25
Orchestra: The Skywalker Symphony
Conductor: Alan Silvestri
Programming: David Bifano

Side Two

8. To Hamunaptra (The Mummy) 3:49
Conductor: Jerry Goldsmith
Programming: Nick Vidar

9. Sandcastles (The Mummy Returns) 1:43
Orchestra: The Sinfonia of London
Conductor: Alan Silvestri
Programming: David Bifano

10. A Different Drum (The Last Temptation of Christ) 4:31
Double Violin: Lakshminarayana Shankar
Keyboards/Percussion/Surdy/Vocals: Peter Gabriel
Percussion: Doudou N'Daiye Rose/Fatela
Voice: Youssou N'Dour
Backing Vocals: David Sancious

11. From the Dead (The Crow/The Crow: City of Angels) 11:29
Conductor: Tim Simonec
Programming/Keyboards: Graeme Revell/Brian Williams
Duduk: Djivan Gasparyan
Percussion: M.B. Gordy
Shakuhachi: Kazu Matsui
Guitars: Karl Verheyen/Philip Tallman
Vocals: Bobbi Page/Darlene Koldenhoven/Chris Snyder/Tierney Sutton/Achmed El-Asmer

12. Hispañola (1492: Conquest of Paradise) 4:50
Chorus: English Chamber Choir
Conductor: Guy Protheroe
Keyboards/Programming: Vangelis
Guitars/Voices: Bruno Manjarres/Pepe Martinez
Mandolin/Violin: Francis Darizcuren

13. The Fremen Way (Dune) 3:31
Orchestra: The City of Prague Philharmonic
Conductor: Mario Klemens
Programming: David Russo

14. Journey Finale (Mountains of the Moon) 2:21
Orchestra: The Graunke Symphony
Conductor: Allan Wilson
Percussion: Foday Muso Suso/Gordon Gottlieb/"Crusher" Bennett

This was an idea kicking around in my head for a while before I actually got around to putting it together. The idea was to make a slightly more active version of The Philosopher, hopefully using percussive beats as the momentum. I also decided to make the album somewhat shorter than what I'd been doing up until then (that is, trying as best as possible to fill a disc to 81 minutes or beyond if I could) in order to keep it from wearing out its welcome (I have since gotten feedback that the album could have been much longer, but I like it the way it is). I also decided that I was going to divide the album into two "sides" in order to affect the flow.

I started and ended with African percussion overlayed with an orchestra the "Journey" theme from Mountains of the Moon, one of Michael Small's best scores. This is a score and film I've long championed, although nobody knows about it. "Harry's Bullshit" is a suite of music from Shaun Davey's The Tailor of Panama, in which a folk-inspired melody is built into a raging torrent. A tense reading of David Kurtz's Alien Nation theme is heard in an excerpt from the episode "Take Over," which leads us into the active and exotic "Shai-Hulud" (called "Trap the Worm" on the original album) from Brian Tyler's Children of Dune miniseries score. "The Outer Provinces" is another suite, this time from Hans Zimmer's Gladiator score and continues the tone generated by the pervious track (I have extremely mixed feelings about the score, but what is there that works is very good). "India" is an extremely catchy cue from Zbigniew Preisner's score from The Secret Garden, bringing further East. It is a nice respite from the activity of the previous tracks and the outright harmonic violence of the following track, the end credits of Predator 2 by Alan Silvestri. Here, one finds Caribbean percussion wrestling with the orchestral element, leading to a powerful conclusion.

Side two opens with "To Hamunaptra," a suite from Jerry Goldsmith's delightful music for The Mummy based upon that film's arresting Egyptian-inspired love theme. Alan Silvestri's score for The Mummy Returns retained the same approach, and so "Sandcastles" continues that idea with a soaring theme for the Medjai. To make a compilation about world influences on modern film music would be pointless without including Peter Gabriel's landmark score for The Last Temptation of Christ. After much deliberation, I felt that "A Different Drum" kept the percussive element going and was inspirational enough before the darkness to follow. That darkness is "From the Dead," a suite from Graeme Revell's scores for the first two Crow movies. They both combine an exotic percussive element with an orchestral approach, but while The Crow also adds a rock/jazz element, The Crow: City of Angels uses instead a liturgical choir. While I made one suite, I placed an index point at the demarcation from the first film to the second. The choir is retained in "Hispañola" from Vangelis Papathanassiou's epic 1492: Conquest of Paradise. We return to a more Middle Eastern flavor with "The Fremen Way," a brief medley of music from Graeme Revell's Dune miniseries before returning once again to the larger scale reading of "Journey Finale."

Editorial Note: Of all the discs I've made, this one and the Star Wars Trilogy disc are the ones I get the most complements on.

I put a bit from Shaun Davey's extremely fun score from The Tailor of Panama as well. This is a score that I loved when I saw the movie, but it was one of the films I caught up to when I had no job, so I couldn't just run out and buy the soundtrack album. Happily, it was at J+R when I went in there last week to pick up the Dune and Children of Dune CDs, so I picked it up as well.

The album (Varese Sarabande 302 066 243) is wonderful, with biting Panamanian rhythms and lush orchestrations. The climactic cue is a variation on the main theme running seven minutes and never gets boring. The upbeat, witty nature of this score makes for much repeat listening.

I picked up the new Jimi Hendrix DVD, Jimi at Berkeley. I was very excited because the last Experience Hendrix DVD packaged this way was Blue Wild Angel, which was the Isle of Wight concert. That DVD was absolutely stunning, with a georgeous picture and a fantastic 5.1 mix by Eddie Kramer that replicated the original ambience of the venue.

Berkeley doesn't look as good, as it is extremely grainy, but the sound is on par with, if not better than, that for Blue Wild Angel. When listening to this disc, it is easy to find oneself immersed in his guitar. While there aren't any moments in this show as trancendental as "Red House" was on Blue Wild Angel, it is nevertheless intoxicating to see Hendrix play.

The DVD has a whole mess of songs in 5.1, but audio-only as there was no footage filmed for his second set, apparently. No matter. Their inclusion, and the amazing sound, is quite welcome.

I also put together another mp3 CD... It consists of the Snatch soundtrack, the two Dazed and Confused soundtracks, Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction, the two Friday soundtracks, Cypress Hill's Black Sunday and Cheech and Chong's Up In Smoke soundtrack. You figure out what it's for... :P

I watched Almost Famous, the "bootleg" cut, last night. I had seen it a couple of times before, but not for a while.

It is difficult to explain why that film works as well as it does to those who are interested in the subject matter. There are many who are not aware, apparently, of the fact that most of the events depicted in the film were based on things that actually happened, although they have been fictionalized and dramatized.

William Miller (Patrick Fugit) is based on writer/director Cameron Crowe himself, and as a result there are elements of the film that ring much more true than people give it credit for. One of the best moments is when Miller is trying to figure out what to write for his Rolling Stone article and he calls up Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman who seems to be channeling Bangs' spirit as is evidenced by the actual footage of Bangs on the DVD). Bangs tells him, "They made you think you were cool. I met you man... you're not cool." A painful observation that Miller has to agree with.

The actual group that Crowe first toured with was The Allman Brothers, which is why the poster in Miller's room of Stillwater looks almost exactly like the cover of the Allman Brothers Band's Live at the Fillmore East (Gregg Allman distrusted him and kept asking if he was a narc). Crowe's real-life near-fatal plane crash happened while traveling with The Who. The character of Russell Hammond character is based on Glenn Frey of The Eagles, as well as Jimmy Page. The scene in which Miller is pulled into the pre-performance huddle is based on an occasion when Eddie Vedder pulled Crowe into Pearl Jam's huddle before performing one of their Lollapalooza shows.

Of course, there are many other elements of the film that also ring true. Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee) has a tendency to spout off about how intense the artistic rush is, while he has no clue as to what the words coming out of his mouth mean. How many interviews with rock stars have shown this sort of inability to articulate outside of their chosen medium? Bebe also displays a complete lack of self-knowledge, a trait that, interestingly enough, makes him much more rounded a character in the extended version of the film than the annoying dick that appears in the theatrical cut.

The extra footage may well change the minds of people who didn't like this film. Consisting entirely of character moments, mostly with Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) and Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup), but also giving more screen time to Miller's mother (Frances McDormand), the "bootleg" cut gives depth and further meaning to the film. In particular, Penny Lane, who was an extremely mysterious figure in the theatrical version, is given a chance to be a much more rewarding character without sacrificing that mystery, although a few lines added back into the film towards the end do much to humanize her.

To date, Almost Famous is the only film of Cameron Crowe's I have seen that I have liked (not counting Fast Times At Ridgemont High). Perhaps it is because I prefer Crowe the rock critic to Crowe the writer-director (the soundtracks for his films are always very well-chosen), but in this particular case his talents and the material coincided and created a fantastic synergy.

Well, I'm hoping to get to see Lost In Translation tonight.
Tags: alan silvestri, cinema, film music, jerry goldsmith, my mixes, reviews, rock
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