This piece of music has nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas, and everything to do with how I’m feeling right now, looking ahead to a winter break and a chance to catch up with friends and family. Twenty-six of us last I heard, with lot of little people. Should be fun.
I got the tune into my head last night and went looking on Spotify. Turns out it’s composed by Hans Zimmer, who seems to have been everywhere for me this year. I guess that started with Inception, around the same time I started walking in to work and back.
Some soundtracks only seem to work when you’re on the move – play them in the office and people get all jittery. Inception‘s definitely one of those, this track more than any other:
Some time shortly after I saw Inception I watched Heat, just to remind myself what a proper heist movie looks like. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Inception, I make it the best blockbuster to come out of Hollywood in the last ten years, but it had nothing of the moral complexity that makes Heat the signature movie in the one-last-job genre.
Moby’s God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters plays out the final scene, drawing the whole thing together perfectly. I remember it from some of the first mornings walking into Shoreditch, as Saf and I guided our new business through its baby steps.
I got myself into the habit of walking Lola in to school in the morning, after which I’d set off along Kingsland Road, one long straight line leading into the heart of the city. An election was looming, like the monolithic glass tower standing over London’s Square Mile, and I was gripped by the idea that if I applied myself, and worked hard, maybe I too could never have to work in a building like that.
I think part of the reason I’ve been so hung up on soundtracks is because a lot of the time I’ve been writing in my head, trying to find a certain place or catch the mood of a particular moment. At some point in 2010 I watched Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line.
It feels like trivialising it to call it a war movie but it’s definitely a film about war, with Zimmer’s score playing a huge part. For a while that became a staple feature of my morning commute, as the skies over London Fields darkened and the temperature began to drop.
Some time towards the end of the year we got the chance to pitch on Darren Aronofsky’s new film, Black Swan, with a score by Clint Mansell. Remembering that Mansell scored Duncan Jones’ Moon, one of my favourite films of last year, I added that to my peripatetic playlist.
Of all the soundtracks I’ve listened to few surpass Moon in terms of connecting me with key moments from the film. Moments of discovery and realisation, and the resulting melancholy, echoing through artificial containment, frozen in space.
Moon coincided with the anniversary of the passing of my cousin, Max. I can remember listening to it on the morning of the nineteenth, trying to find something worthwhile in the day. Sometimes you just have to accept that sadness is that something.
Mansell also worked with Aronofsky on his first film of any real note, π (Pi), the soundtrack for which plays as a frenetic mix of cerebral sound-bites and surging electronica, reading like a who’s who of people who mattered back when knob-twiddling was a young man’s game. Orbital, Autechre, Aphex Twin, Roni Size, Massive Attack, David Holmes and the man behind this track, Banco de Gaia.
The last track I’m including is Staralfur, by Sigur Ros, from the end of Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic. It was the inspiration for a scene I envisaged back at the very beginning of 2010, off the back of which I now seem to be reverse-engineering an entire film. I’m sure that’s not the way you’re supposed to do it, but at least I get to spend a few hours of each week holed up in a motor-home, on the banks of a loch, lost in the search for Scotland’s second most famous monster.
That’s me for 2010 I think, I’m going AWOL for a week or two, meaning that you will have to do awhile without my charming commentary and humorous observations on this silly little thing we call life. Unless, of course, you are one of twenty-six appointed friends and relatives, in which case I’m sure you can barely contain yourself.
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[UPDATE 24/12/2010]: Dane from Silverlake points out that the first track on this playlist is not really composed by Hans Zimmer, nor was True Romance the first film it was used in. It is in fact Gassenhauer, by Carl Orff, which appeared in the 1973 film Badlands directed by… Terrence Malick. And here it is…