music of David Lang

Cantaloupe Records

It may seem disingenuous to write a review for a soundtrack when I haven’t seen the movie said soundtrack is from.   I have every intention of seeing (Untitled) as soon as I can.   Suffice it to say that the movie didn’t really make it to Central Michigan or if it did I missed the day that our local theater showed it.   Be that as it may, the soundtrack is worth discussing.   And it just so happens that I’ve listened to the disc a few times.

David Lang’s music has been excerpted and retooled (by Lang himself and music supervisor Lawson White) into the soundtrack for this movie about artists trying to do their thing.   You can read John Clare’s interview with Lang on the process just a stone’s throw away. The first 22 tracks of the disc present these fragments, as well as a few fragments by other composers (Chopin, Schoenberg, and Grieg) as a kind of Lang pastiche.   The strangest thing about the first 22 tracks is how well they work as a singular composition (to my ears, but maybe I’m trying too hard).

I do find it slightly ironic that Lang’s music is being used to accompany film.   Lang’s music defies a prescriptive emotional arc and it seems to me that film music is all about highlighting and emphasizing the stories own emotional arc.   Lang’s flat affect seems to be directly at odds with the very reason that filmmakers hire composers.   I wonder if, after someone has seen the film, they will then project the emotions from the movie onto these aloof compositions.   I will let someone who has seen the movie deal with that issue.   Hopefully in the comment section…

As an extra treat, the last 4 tracks of the CD are full performances of Wed, Sweet Air, The Anvil Chorus, and Cheating, Lying, Stealing. These are all previously-released tracks but including them helps the “gateway drug” aspect of this disc.   Some folks will have seen the movie and enjoyed it enough to buy this soundtrack.   Some people will buy the music because they have heard of David Lang and want to know more.   If you are already a BOAC fan, then I don’t know that this disc is going to do much for you.   If you enjoyed the movie, dug the quirky music, and want to delve deeper into the music, then please step inside.

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