Saturday, June 30, 2012

Howard Shore, Metric, K'naan - Cosmopolis (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [2012]

Howard Shore, Metric, K'naan - Cosmopolis: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Genre - Soundtrack, Film Score, Indie Rock, Hip Hop
Released - June, 2012 (May, 2012 in some European countries)
Length - 41:00 (approx.)
Publisher - Howe Records Cosmopolis
Wikipedia: Cosmopolis

Howard Shore has provided the score for nearly every film directed by David Cronenberg. Their 30+ year collaborative partnership has usually brought out the best in Howard Shore's compositional skills, their most recent film together, Cosmopolis, being no exception. I haven't seen Cosmopolis yet (it won't be released in the U.S. until August 2012), but based on the trailer, I'm assuming it largely involves Robert Pattinson as businessman of questionable ethics who spends a great deal of the film in his limo (I never read the novel). I've never been disappointed by a Cronenberg film, so it will be a first if I don't like Cosmopolis.

Canadian indie rockers Metric must have really made an impression when they worked with Shore on a song for the most recent Twilight film, because he invited them to co-write and perform three of the songs heard on this soundtrack. Due to their collaboration, the album flows seamlessly between the Shore instrumental tracks and Metric's songs. This is something I can't say is true about many soundtracks that try to mix score with songs, but it works flawlessly in this instance. There is an ethereal ambience to the album, with guitars and synthy melodies swirling about to create a very relaxed, almost dreamlike listening experience. I first discovered Metric when I heard "Black Sheep" in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (one of the standout songs on that soundtrack), so I was quite intrigued when I first learned they were working Shore, one of my all-time favorite film composers.

Howard Shore
Fans of Shore's largely orchestral and heavily thematic work on films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy may be turned off, but anyone that can appreciate his more experimental, atmospheric side displayed in films such as this and Videodrome should listen to this album. Metric fans or those that don't normally listen to film scores need not fast forward through the Shore instrumentals; the composer's music acts as a perfect compliment to the band's mesmerizing sound.

Aside from Shore and Metric, the album features a song by rapper K'naan, with lyrics penned by Cosmopolis novelist Don DeLillo. I'm uncertain whether Shore had any involvement the song's production, but it fits perfectly in this album, with the rapper chanting the words in a manner that is almost hypnotic.

Tracklist: (all tracks by Howard Shore unless otherwise noted)

1. White Limos
2. Long To Live (Metric)
3. Rat Men
4. Asymmetrical
5. I Don't Want To Wake Up (Metric)
6. A Credible Threat
7. Call Me Home (Metric)
8. Haircut
9. Mecca (K'naan)
10. The Gun
11. Benno

Rating: 9.5 (out of 10)

Key Tracks:
Metric "Long To Live"

Howard Shore "Asymmetrical"

K'naan "Mecca"

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Primitives - The Ostrich / Sneaky Pete [7" Single]

The Primitives - The Ostrich / Sneaky Pete (7" vinyl single)
Genre - Rock and Roll, Experimental, Parody
Released - 1964
Length - 4:44
Publisher - Pickwick City Records

Side A: The Ostrich
Side B: Sneaky Pete

Before Lou Reed formed the legendary Velvet Underground, he worked as a staff songwriter for Pickwick City Records. This was essentially a hit factory, one of many in the early 60's. They were quite common and many famous songwriters started out at these businesses writing hits (and misses) for other singers. If anyone remember the film Grace Of My Heart, they'll know what I'm talking about. Not the best film, but it is loosely based on Carole King's early songwriting career at a songwriting firm. It was at Pickwick that Reed honed his songwriting skills and gained experience in the recording studio. Many Velvets songs were written by Reed at this time, and while songs about Heroin and NYC street life were probably not Pickwick executives' idea of marketable hits, they took notice of another song he wrote, a catchy dance number called "The Ostrich".

At first glance, it sounds like a typical flavor of the week dance tune from 1964, but the song is actually kind of subversive and revolutionary. The lyrics parody other dance tunes of the era (at one point Reed sings, "put your head on the floor and have somebody step on it"). Really worth noting is the guitar. Reed tuned every string to the note D for a droning effect (this technique would resurface on The Velvet Underground & Nico, credited as "ostrich guitar" in that album's liner notes). This impressed one of the studio musicians playing on the record, John Cale. Cale was also experimenting with drone as a member of LaMonte Young's avant garde group The Dream Syndicate (not to be confused with the 80's band). The single quickly faded into obscurity but it is notable as the first recording featuring Cale and Reed performing together, and was therefore the seed of a collaborative partnership that would produce some of the most revolutionary and original music of the late 60's.

8 out of 10

To the best my knowledge, "The Ostrich" and it's b-side "Sneaky Pete" have never been re-released, so I'm sharing it here. It's only 128 kbps mp3, so sorry about the low quality.

get it