Philip Glass: Koyaanisqatsi (Complete Original Soundtrack)
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Parodied more than once, derided, blessed, hailed as a wonder, and decried as a travesty, this (abbreviated) soundtrack is capable of generating fascination and annoyance, often simultaneously. The truth is that this isn't merely minimalism — it's expressive minimalism, with some impressive nuances. Given the space to breathe, the music here is breathtaking, and becomes even more so when properly linked, in its full form, with the film's visuals. The later Powaqqatsi did not live up to the first film in either a visual or musical respect.
I am a huge Philip Glass fan. I am glad to have ALL of the music. Here's the breakdown: The original issue of the original soundtrack (from the early 80's) cut some tracks from the recording. The ones that were kept were cut for time, most nobaly "The Grid". This is understandable, given the capacity of media back then. Records and tape limited how long a track could be as well as album order. Since almost half of the music is in the last three tracks ("The Grid" and "Prophecies" total 28 minutes+), It may have been impossible to group them on the same side of the cassete or vinyl record, in the fashion that extended vinyl singles would be cut to part 1 and part 2 on opposite sides. The 90's re-recording is also EXCELLENT. Philip Glass had good reason to praise it; his ensemble is better at playing the score, now having 10 years more to learn it. However, it is STILL MISSING SOME TRACKS. That album omits the connecting tissues (and admits so in the liner notes). These omitted tracks are Pruitt Igoe Coda (misspelled in the 90's recording, as Pruitt-Igoe is the name of the housing development dynamited during this famous sequence), Slo Mo People, Microchip, and Translations and Credits. This recording restores ALL segments in their original recording. I might note that not all of the music was written by Philip Glass. The credits for the film list Michael Hoenig as the comopser of additional music. Does this account for the tracks missing from the 90's recording? Perhaps the liner notes for this album would make this clear. It's interesting that the original recording is reissued so close to the "Watchmen" soundtrack, which actually uses segments from this recording rather than the 90's re-recording. Did "Watchmen" perhaps re-awaken an interest among record companies to reissue the original? I hope so. In any case, it's good to see the original back.
Complete, but could have been better?
First of all I have to say that I am reviewing the CD and presentation, not the music itself. The music is "classic" Glass and doesn't get any better than this. If you don't already have a recording of this music and soundtrack, or are looking to add a little Philip Glass to your collection, please pick this one up. That being said, I wouldn't retire the orginial 1983 recording you might have in rotation just yet. When I saw on the Philip Glass website "contains sound effects from the movie", I knew something might be a little off. While this release finally does justice to the film and it's music, it still leaves a little more to be desired. The reason why it contains the sound effects from the movie is becuase it seems like all Orange Mountain really did was pull the *actual* soundtrack right from the film and clean it up with filters. In doing this, some tracks did not change (Organic and Clouds for example). However, some tracks, expeically Pruitt Igoe, really suffer from poor mixing. The vocal track on Pruitt Igoe is almost buried in the background with the instruments since there was no way to seperate out the voices and let them stand out. As a result, the orginial 1983 soundtrack recording is still the only one that has the clearest and most properly balenced mix. The emotional resonance of the vocals in Pruitt Igoe can be heard and felt still only in that recording. I know it may be nitpicking, but really compare the two. It is extremely nice to finally have the *glue* that holds all the tracks together, but the tracks themselves seem lackluster when compared to the 1983 recording. It just makes me wonder if something has happened to the master recordings for the film and might be a reason why we didn't see a CD with the brightness of the first recording combined with the missing elements from this recording. Also, just to let you know where I am comming from, I don't even consider the 1998 version to even be from the movie. It is so lackluster when compared to the orginial that I feel it is more an interpertation of the movie (or even inspired by), rather than an attempt to reconstruct the actual music.
Finally, after nearly 30 years, we have the complete score for this film, in chronological order, from beginning to end. The music is every bit as powerful as the film itself, and one can't help but remember Reggio's remarkable images while listening to this album. Thank you, Orange Mountain Music--this album has been a long time in coming, but the final product is worth the wait.
Born: January 31, 1937 in Baltimore, MD
Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s
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