Music Reviews
The Man Who Fell To Earth

The Man Who Fell To Earth Original Soundtrack

Stomu Yamash’ta and John Phillips

UMC and Universal Music Group

Movie soundtracks are often problematic for the general listener. The soundtrack must serve the visual elements of the film, and the audio track’s emotional ups and downs may seem arbitrary. There are, of course, exceptions, but this double disk collation from David Bowie’s notorious 1976 film transcends expectation. While Nick Roeg directed, Bowie just acted and added his ambiguous panache to the project. The sound track was never released; reason range from copyrights to apathy but now it available on CD and all the other modern musical distro channels.

This is a rather bipolar collection with a majority of the tracks minimalist Avant Garde jazz. Jarringly, easy pop tunes and some pure country appear as well, if nothing else, this will keep you on your acoustic feet. The opening track “Poker Dice” comes from Stomu Yamash’ta. A simple melodic line is backed with scattered drum notes to build an energy and certainty that something is about to happen: An alien lands on earth, sans ray gun or agenda. He’s rather good looking, speaks a lightly British inflected American English, and plans to change the world for the better thought the western capitalist system.

Once we are all tuned into the sound of the opening track there’s a cosmic jump to a smooth, big band version of “Blueberry Hill” sung by Fats Domino. John Phillips appears next, his “Jazz 2” renders blues with a dissonant undertone; it’s tempting to compare it to a Steely Dan jam session. Yamash’ta and Phillips alternate as the sound track progresses, and every time you start to feel in the groove up pops some oddity like a C&W version of “Rhumba Boogie” or The Kingston Trio’s version of Lerner and Lowe’s “September Song” from Camelot. Cognitive dissonance, this is your sound track.

While none of these cuts seems to have much relevance to the ones surrounding it, they are a strangely charming collection. It’s almost as if you were listening to an exceptionally eclectic late night college radio station that had no listeners and the DJ doesn’t care. This is a personal experience, just as crafting or watching a good art film. This sound track is growing on me; I’ve tracked it a few times to get its intentions and while I’m still mystified, each track is becoming my friend, and of course sometimes my friends don’t all get along with each other. Welcome to my music player.

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