Wattstax [SLYT] is a 1973 documentary film about the 1972 Wattstax music festival, held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Watts riots. Featuring performances by Isaac Hayes, Albert King, Rufus and Carla Thomas, The Staple Singers, The Emotions, The Bar-Kays, and other greats of soul, R&B, and gospel, Wattstax also incorporates relatively unknown comic Richard Pryor's musings on life for black Americans in 1972, "man-and-woman-on-the-street" interviews, and audience footage. [NSFW] [more inside]
There are many, many random numbers involved in the score for the piece. Every time I ran the C-program, it produced a new "performance".... The one we chose had that conspicuous descending tone that everybody liked. It just happened to end up real loud in that version.James Moorer relates the rather unexpected manner in which he composed one of the one of the world's best known pieces of computer generated music: "Deep Note" from the THX trailer. [more inside]
The Point! (1971) is the animated TV adaptation of singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson's fable about a boy named Oblio, the only round-headed person in the Pointed Village, where by law everyone and everything had to have a point. Despite his round head, Oblio has many friends. But an evil count, jealous that Oblio is more popular than his own son, says that without a pointed head, Oblio is an outlaw. Along with his faithful dog Arrow, Oblio is exiled to the Pointless Forest. There, he has many fantastic experiences (including encounters with a 3-headed man, giant bees, a tree in the leaf-selling business, and a good-humored old rock). From his adventures, Oblio learns that it is not at all necessary to be pointed to have a point in life. Directed by Fred Wolf and narrated by Ringo Starr, the film features all the original songs from Nilsson's album of the same name. [more inside]
Whether or not all cultural historians agree with the premise that Rom people came to Europe originally from India, or whether or not the portrayals of Rom musicians in the film are always *accurate* or *authentic* ones (some have indicated they're not, or are too heavily draped in over-stylized Exotica), there is surely no denying that the film is a treasure trove of fantastic musical performances. You've probably guessed by now that we're talking about Latcho Drom, which you can see it in its entirety here.
A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
Though it became an epic flop and forced Francis Ford Coppola to declare bankruptcy, the 1982 musical One From the Heart (previously) did produce one hell of a soundtrack featuring the unlikely collaboration between Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle. Here's the story of how it all came together. [more inside]
It's debatable whether the troubled World War Z signals the end of the ongoing zombie craze, but the film that started it all is much more clear: Danny Boyle's bleak, artful cult horror-drama 28 Days Later, which saw its US premiere ten years ago this weekend. From its iconic opening shots of an eerily abandoned London (set to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's brooding post-rock epic "East Hastings") to the frenzied chaos of its climax, Boyle's film -- a dark yet humanist tale of a world eviscerated by a frighteningly contagious epidemic of murderous rage -- reinvented and reinvigorated the genre that Romero built (though many insist its rabid, sprinting berserkers don't really count). And while sequel 28 Weeks Later with its heavyhanded Iraq War allusions failed to live up to the original (despite boasting one of the most viscerally terrifying opening sequences in modern horror), and 28 Months looks increasingly unlikely, there remains a small universe of side content from the film, including music, short films, comics, and inspired-by games. [more inside]
Old school Hip Hop photographer, Joe Conzo, captured the emerging art and culture of Hip Hop in the South Bronx during the late 70's and early 80's. Conzo's photo archive has made its home at the Cornell Hip Hop Collection, whose mission is "to collect and make accessible the historical artifacts of Hip Hop culture and to ensure their preservation for future generations." Now Scream! is the Collection's first comprehensive exhibition. It runs from April 4, 2013 to February 4, 2014. Conzo's work is part of the exhibition as well. [more inside]
Mozart in Turkey is film made of three distinct, but related, elements. First, it is a look into Mozart at the time of his courting Constanze, a bit on his new patron, the "enlightened monarch" Joseph II, and other influences, including the Turkish music and culture, along with thoughts on Mozart's opera as a work created in the Age of Enlightenment, all through the running commentary by opera director Elijah Moshinsky, who also interviews Alev Lytle Croutier, the author of Harem: The World Behind the Veil. Then there is the production of an opera in Turkey, specifically set in and around the Topkapi Palace (virtual tour; Wikipedia). And the last piece is the performance of Die Entführung aus dem Serail, or The Abduction from the Seraglio. You can watch the entire film online on Vimeo, thanks to Directors Cut Films.
Burma Shave and Big Time, all there in their entirety, for your Waitsian viewing and listening pleasure.
Kathryn Bigelow's striking bin Laden manhunt thriller Zero Dark Thirty arrives in wide release tonight on the heels of a final artful trailer -- one with oddly familiar musical accompaniment. The funereal hymn, a cover of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" (lyrics), deftly recasts the 90s power ballad as a haunting dirge of quiet grief, shattered ideals, and a singleminded focus on revenge, a perfect distillation of the film's profoundly grim thesis. But while the song may be fitting, it wasn't composed for the project -- it's just the latest success story from Belgian women's choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers, whose mournful reinterpretations of classic and modern rock -- catapulted by their rendition of "Creep" in The Social Network -- have made them famous around the world, with star turns in the likes of Homeland ("Every Breath You Take") and Downton Abbey ("With or Without You"). Cover comparison site WhoSampled offers a list of YouTube comparisons between the covers and the originals; look inside for more of their work in movies and television. [more inside]
Aria was an art movie/promotional stunt put out by Virgin Media in 1987 with famous directors providing a music-video take on various opera pieces. ( A full review by That Opera Chick). Of particular note is Julien Temple's (Of Earth Girls Are Easy fame) adaptation of Verdi's Rigoletto as a zany, cartoonish, ecstasy-fueled and very 80s farce set at the infamous Madonna Inn. Watch the whole delirious sequence here.
Homebuilding a 474mm tall model of "Robocain" from 1990's Robocop 2, complete with a working head. Clips of Robocain and the other Robocop prototypes from the movie. All photos from the project. Bonus music link: Front Line Assembly performing the Robocop 2 sampling Mindphaser live.
In the wake of their grunge-y breakout hit "Creep" and the success of sophomore record The Bends, Thom Yorke and the rest of Radiohead were under pressure to deliver once more. So they shut themselves away inside the echoing halls of a secluded 16th century manor and got to work. What emerged from that crumbling Elizabethan castle fifteen years ago today was a shockingly ambitious masterpiece of progressive rock, a visionary concept album that explored the "fridge buzz" of modernity -- alienation, social disconnection, existential dread, the impersonal hum of technology -- through a mosaic of challenging, innovative, eerily beautiful music unlike anything else at the time. Tentatively called Ones and Zeroes, then Your Home May Be at Risk If You Do Not Keep Up Payments, the band finally settled on OK Computer, an appropriately enigmatic title for this acclaimed harbinger of millennial angst. For more, you can watch the retrospective OK Computer: A Classic Album Under Review for a track-by-track rundown, or the unsettling documentary Meeting People is Easy for a look at how the album's whirlwind tour nearly gave Yorke a nervous breakdown. Or look inside for more details and cool interpretations of all the tracks -- including an upcoming MeFi Music Challenge! [more inside]
A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
In Southern California in the 1980s, KROQ had this weird un-DJ-like guy named (seriously) Rodney Bingenheimer, who came on late at night on Sundays and played punk records and new bands like Blondie, The Ramones, X, Joan Jett, Devo and Cheap Trick. Did this weirdo really have some influence? A 90-minute 2004 documentary now on YouTube, Mayor of the Sunset Strip (Part 1) tells his story, and it's weirder than you may have imagined. [more inside]
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba! It's been nearly two decades since that glorious savanna sunrise, and once again The Lion King is at the top of the box office. It's a good chance to revisit what made the original the capstone of the Disney Renaissance, starting with the music. Not the gaudy show tunes or the Elton John ballads, but the soaring, elegiac score by Hans Zimmer which, despite winning an Oscar, never saw a full release outside of an unofficial bootleg. Luckily, it's unabridged and high-quality, allowing one to lay Zimmer's haunting, pulse-pounding, joyful tracks alongside the original video (part 2, 3, 4), revealing the subtle leitmotifs and careful matching of music and action. In addition, South African collaborator Lebo M wove traditional Zulu chorals into the score, providing veiled commentary on scenes like this; his work was later expanded into a full album, the Broadway stage show, and projects closer to his heart. Speaking of expanded works, there were inevitable sequels -- all of which you can experience with The Lion King: Full Circle (download guide), a fan-made, three-hour supercut of the original film and its two follow-ups. Want more? Look... harder... [more inside]
In their 25 year career San Fransisco-based Kronos Quartet might be most famous for creating the go-to dramatic movie trailer music but they've recently courted controversy with their latest album, 9/11, with Steve Reich (NPR First Listen). The album is another in a long line of collaborations with composers such as Phillip Glass, Terry Riley, and Pēteris Vasks. And like any good instrumental ensemble, they've covered Hendrix, Sigur Ros, and Tom Waits. Oh, and they've been on Sesame Street. [more inside]
The Soundworks Collection gives a behind-the-scenes look into the work of talented sound teams working on feature films, soundtrack scoring, and video games with a compilation of exclusive interviews, awards shows / event panel coverage and sound stage / studio room videos. Vimeo Channel. YouTube Channel. [more inside]
In the two decades starting in the 1980s, Laurent Boutonnat produced a series of atmospheric pop videos for Mylène Farmer, the chart-topping "French Madonna" who is little known outside the Europop circuit. [more inside]
Five years ago this week, the BBC started broadcasting one of the most extraordinary documentaries ever to grace television: Planet Earth. The culmination of five years of field work, it employed the most cutting-edge of techniques in order to capture life in all its forms, from sweeping spaceborne vistas to shockingly intimate close-ups -- including many sights rarely glimpsed by human eyes. Visually spectacular, it showcased footage shot in 204 locations in 62 countries, thoroughly documenting every biome from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the lifegiving waters of the Okavango Delta, a rich narrative tapestry backed by a stirring orchestral score from the BBC Concert Orchestra. Unfortunately, the series underwent some editorial changes for rebroadcast overseas. But now fans outside the UK can rejoice -- all eleven chapters of this epic story are available on YouTube in their original form: uncut, in glorious 1080p HD, and with the original narration by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Click inside for the full listing (and kiss the rest of your week goodbye). [more inside]
Brooklyn natives Atomic Tom cover "Don't You Want Me" in a video filled with celeb cameos and '80's references: Vimeo / Youtube (from the Take Me Home Tonight soundtrack.)
The long take, an uncut, uninterrupted shot in film, is seen by some as the counter to CGI, the last great field for cinematic art. The linked page features six clips from 1990 on, plus the opening shot from Orson Welles' 1958 film, Touch of Evil. Alfred Hitchcock's film from a decade earlier, Rope, took the long cut further, with the whole film shot in eight takes of up to 10 minutes each, a decision shaped by the limit of the physical recording media. With digital media, the long take could be pushed further, as with Russian Ark, from 2002. The movie was shot in one long take, with the narrative working through the history of Russia, set within The State Hermitage Museum, and captured in one day on the 4th take. If the long takes are a tad long for you, try the "short" long takes that are one-shot music videos [videos inside] [more inside]
The OEIS Movie is simply a slideshow of one thousand plots from the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences, at two plots per second with sequence-generated music. [more inside]
Unlike many cinematic exports, the Disney canon of films distinguishes itself with an impressive dedication to dubbing. Through an in-house service called Disney Character Voices International, not just dialogue but songs, too, are skillfully re-recorded, echoing the voice acting, rhythm, and rhyme scheme of the original work to an uncanny degree (while still leaving plenty of room for lyrical reinvention). The breadth of the effort is surprising, as well -- everything from Arabic to Icelandic to Zulu gets its own dub, and their latest project, The Princess and the Frog, debuted in more than forty tongues. Luckily for polyglots everywhere, the exhaustiveness of Disney's translations is thoroughly documented online in multilanguage mixes and one-line comparisons, linguistic kaleidoscopes that cast new light on old standards. Highlights: "One Jump Ahead," "Prince Ali," and "A Whole New World" (Aladdin) - "Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata," and "Luau!" (The Lion King) - "Under the Sea" and "Poor Unfortunate Souls" (The Little Mermaid) - "Belle" and "Be Our Guest" (Beauty and the Beast) - "Just Around the Riverbend" (Pocahontas) - "One Song" and "Heigh-Ho" (Snow White) - "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (Cinderella) - Medley (Pinocchio) - "When She Loved Me" (Toy Story 2) - Intro (Monsters, Inc.)
Shane MacGowan is the face and name most often associated with The Pogues. Unraveling Shane's psyche would require a book-length study but the crux of his identity lies somewhere in that conflict between English experience and Irish heritage. The abbreviated story of his life starts with his birth in England, but he was raised in Ireland, and moved back to England some years later. He won a scholarship to the renowned Westminster School, where he was possibly enrolled alongside Thomas Dolby and other notable people. MacGowan was involved with drugs and publicized hooliganery before being in a band, the first of which was The Nipple Erectors in 1977. [more inside]
You've probably seen (and heard) his version of Alice in Wonderland, but have you seen The King and I, Harry Potter, The Sword in the Stone, or Mary Poppins?
"I am Russian so, obviously, I like this film. It has typical Russian humor, it is a farce, so do not look for higher meanings in the jokes, it makes fun of the social standards of the Soviet regime as well as the people who served it so well. It features some of the best Russian actors that we love seeing and acting; they sing in the movie and it is lovely as well. If you are a tough judge of movies, then please make sure you know Soviet history a bit and understand that the humor differs from what you see in American movies before you call it crap." [more inside]
Australia song - Adam Buxton of the Adam and Joe show gives musical tribute to the epically long Baz Luhrmann movie. [more inside]
Courtesy of Youtube, here are some performances from the 1981 movie Dance Craze: Nite Klub, Too Much Too Young & Concrete Jungle by The Specials; Three Minute Hero & Too Much Pressure by The Selecter; Ranking Full Stop & Mirror in the Bathroom by The (English) Beat; The Prince & Swan Lake by Madness; (Lets do the) Rock Steady & 007 (Shanty Town) by The Bodysnatchers and; Nee-Nee-Na-Na-Na-Nu & Lip Up Fatty by Bad Manners. [more inside]
Well, someone's gone and made a feature-length biopic on Bob Dylan. It was bound to happen, right? Didn't necessarily expect Cate Blanchett (along with 5 others) to be cast in the role of Bob, but, hey, she looks great with the flyaway hair and the cigarette. Here's a clip, wherein Cate as Bob meets Ginsberg in a golfcart. Here's a trailer and an IMDB page. Here director Todd Haynes talks about the film. He discusses his casting of Blanchett, and offers observations on other aspects of the movie here and here. And if you want to read reviews, there's plenty of 'em.
Want to be a recording star? The Great World of Sound is looking for new talent!
High School Musical is becoming somewhat of a phenomenon amongst preteens and teens a like. Recently hitting the top of Billboard Charts, and drawing unprecedented amounts of traffic toThe Disney Channel's website. Yet, there are still detractors . The made-for-tv movie is also involved in a controversy related to its pricing (via digg.com) in the ITunes Music Store.
Townes van Zandt. In some theaters now is a new documentary about his life called Be Here to Love Me--a life that followed the all-too-typical path of a star that burns too bright: the promise of talent, addiction, and untimely death. (see the trailer here or here). Townes van Zandt was a singer/songwriter, often included in the folk or country genres, whose biggest accomplishment was when Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard took his song Poncho and Lefty to the top of the charts. But even though he never was famous, he has achieved legendary status. Steve Earle once said "Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that."
Mandarin: 1998-2005, R.I.P. (warning: 21 MB QT Movie) A farewell slide show with musical accompaniment by/to a great Denton, Texas band: Mandarin. Many of the images are of Denton and the surrounding area, tour photos and various other bric a brac captured beautifully by Peter Salisbury, the bass player who compiled the slideshow. They were my friends and Denton was my home for many years. Their music will be missed by many.
Los Zafiros. A Cuban pop group that could rival the Beatles for song-craft, if not in popularity. Don't take my word for it though. Read Ry Cooder's interview, see the movie, read the movie review, or listen yourself [real|wmp].
John Debney fought with Satan to score "The Passion of the Christ." Literally: "I had all these computers and synthesizers in my studio and the hard drives would go down and the digital picture that lives on the computer with the music would just freeze on his [Satan's] face... and I was verbalizing and saying to Satan, 'Manifest yourself right now...'"
Porn Movie Music (generally sfw) Streaming audio that is surprisingly more varied then you might imagine. A few rude lyrics every now and then, but for the most part easy listening.