Lately I’ve been diving back into the world of Michael Mann, culminating in his masterpiece Heat. I want to comment on that film at some point, but I’m still collecting ideas, putting my thoughts together. I have also been watching the show Luck, which was on HBO a couple years back. It’s a show that centers around a racetrack and the personalities that surround are a part of that world. Mann was a producer and director of the pilot. The show was created by David Milch who is one of the most interesting minds and greatest writers in television. Deadwood, a show he created, is one of the high-water marks of television for me. It is as close to Shakespeare as we are likely to see in our time. I think anyone that wants to understand our country should visit that show. Anyway, while looking up information on Luck, I found this interview with both Milch and Mann. It is short but fascinating.
One of the first movie soundtracks I ever loved, that wasn’t strictly pop music, was the soundtrack to Michael Mann’s Heat. Moby, U2, and Brian Eno do make appearances, but vocals are kept to a minimum. The music is mostly hauntingly beautiful, with occasional forays into tense discord. Rarely do film and music link up so well together. Mann’s film is full of shades of blue, modern and sleek. The music has the same sleekness, full of ambient soundscapes that recall a city in the wee hours of the morning. The music rarely tells you how to feel. It is instead full of wonder, opening the door to a higher emotional state. The same piece may be lonely, beautiful, or tense, depending on the mood that you listen to it in. Above is a Michael Brooks instrumental called Ultramarine. It is a good piece to listen to because it features several elements that appear elsewhere on the soundtrack. It has percussive textures like Brian Eno’s Force Marker, a beautiful theme like Moby’s God Moving Over the Face of the Waters, and an overall ambience to it like much of the soundtrack.
I just took my dog outside to unbearable humidity and large insects flying in packs. I felt as if I just walked out into the Time of the Dinosaurs. This is summer in Texas, and today is not even that bad compared to some, as there were moments of a semi-cool breeze.
Look if you are not interested in climate change as a justice issue, if you don’t care about what it is doing to animal and plant life, about what it is doing to our oceans, or any other previously made argument, trust me, you don’t want to live in a world that is just plain hotter than it already is. It is so muggy and hot out you would feel like stabbing someone for walking too close to you. Trust me, you don’t want to live in the Time of the Dinosaurs.
The link above is to the Moby song Alone. Although I’ve never been a fan of his songs featuring vocals, except a couple slower moodier pieces featuring female voices, I find some of his instrumentals to be beautiful and haunting. The end of the movie Heat is extremely powerful due in part to his God Moving Over the Face of the Waters.
There is a hypnotic beauty to Alone, but there is also a tension there. Even though the title is simple, in this case I find the title playing with the music and vice versa. When we think of the word alone we usually think of someone that is sad or lonely. However, when I hear this piece I think more of the idea of a prize fighter alone in the corner of the ring. A meditative moment before the storm breaks. There is a subtle danger here, a personal violence lurking just around the corner. It’s the contrasting emotions of this piece along with the reframing of the word alone that makes this piece interesting to me.