The Lost Wong Kar-Wai Mixtape

Chungking Express

[This is the third in my series of mixtapes that evoke the spirit of auteur filmmakers. I welcome suggestions for future selections. The MP3s available here are for sampling purposes only. Please support the artists by buying their albums and going to their shows. If you are the artist or label rep and don’t want an MP3 featured, please email me]

At its best, a Wong Kar-Wai film reproduces the fever pitch of a music-induced daydream. A love song patters out a simple vision playing out on a rain-soaked windowpane. Story fragments form in the emotional ether that each rise of sound elicits. Lyrics dipped in nostalgia drip off the song. Nothing is distinct, everything flows into one another, sound, lyric, dialogue, image all smudge together, all rested from the same sublime delight of feeling.

My Blueberry Nights

In order to convey Kar-Wai’s unique ear for music, I attempted to restrict myself to music that was first and foremost, musical. This was a very difficult task for me as my inclination is towards lyrics first, music second. If you listen to the songs in films like Chungking Express or Fallen Angel, or more recently with My Blueberry Nights, lyrics are rarely emphatic, it tends to be about the mood that each song conveys as it passes through. However, something like the titular song in Happy Together goes against this idea, a carefully placed pronouncement of on-the-nose lyrics. Yet even this is sheathed in a musical familiarity that plays on both levels; such is the brilliance of his soundtracks. I have tried to apply the same ratio in my selections, the Nouvelle Vague track being very reminiscent of Happy Together, but on the whole keeping to a softer yet familiar sound wobbling in the background, at times letting instruments murmur to one another, all trying to get at something whimsically, lost in their own pleasure. This mixtape is not so much a return to the music of Kar-Wai’s films, but the promise of something more, possessing the same general spirit but conscious of his recent venture into American landscapes, the music unabashedly American, and lacking in his international variety.

Still I like to think it belongs on the same jukebox that reappears like a ghostly portent in the Kar-Wai universe, alone and musty, wobbling out weepy love songs into the dark and grainy abyss.

Chungking Express

A single streamed version of the mixtape can be listened to here Individual tracks are beneath the seat. Would you like to know more…?

The Lost Cormac McCarthy Mixtape

The Road

[A continuing series of mixtapes created to evoke the spirit of auteur filmmakers. I welcome suggestions for future selections. The MP3s available here are for sampling purposes only. Please support the artists by buying their albums and going to their shows. If you are the artist or label rep and don’t want an MP3 featured, please email me]

This latest installment of the Auteur Filmmakers Mixtape series is clearly breaking the rules before I’ve hardly start, as far as I am aware Cormac McCarthy hasn’t as much as picked up a camera in his life. His weapon of choice, the written word, has however been fundamental in the development of key film properties as of late, most notably NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, but, for the immediate purposes of this exercise, my gaze lays square upon the two behemoths lurching on the horizon: John Hillcoat’s THE ROAD, and Todd Field’s BLOOD MERIDIAN. The two books, although written at different points in Cormac’s life and partaking of worlds split by generations, nonetheless feel thematically and spiritually part of a continuum, stages of the same moral decay, and as such, the two are blended together into one playlist, the ‘blood’ bleeding into, or onto, the ‘road’.

This mixtape does not aspire to be something of an authentic soundtrack for these films, the bleak and antiquated rigidity that will be required for that goes against my better interests, I rather ferret out the essence using whatever penchant for modern and sometimes pop-like sounds I deem suitable, continuing my mixtape code for repurposing songs to suit new and surprising contexts. If to be of any use other than pure enjoyment, the mixtape is my attempt to capture the mood shifts between the two stories, the carnivorous depths in BLOOD MERIDIAN’s acrid depiction of nineteenth century lawlessness in the Old West, and the hard swallow of hope in THE ROAD’s nuclear winter. Since Hillcoat’s film is pretty much in the can, this mean overgrown apocalypse without end I give to you, Mr. Field.

Notes on the tracks: Cave’s Stagger Lee is perhaps the only song that lives up to the kind of brutality Cormac lays down, and Mr Stagger Lee would be just the sort of species the Judge would collect in his sketchbook. That said, Judge Holden, the epitome of everything wicked in the world, is aptly commemorated with Dylan’s Wicked Messenger (‘he did come, with a mind that multiplied the smallest matter’). The Dead Vine Blues track fits the first plains attack of the Comanche channeled into musical instruments, a piece of bravado I am strangely proud of. The ruminations of THE ROAD in the Tindersticks and Secret Machines tracks, while liberally playing with canon, do hypothesize quite nicely the psychological state of being a walking phantom. Not possessing an MP3 version of Bob Dylan’s original and far superior Ain’t Talkin’, I had to suffice with the lesser alternative track for these purposes. Enjoy.

“THEN IN CAME THE DEVIL, HE SAID I COME TO TAKE YOU DOWN…”

A single streamed version of the mixtape can be listened to here Individual tracks are below but please be patient for the tracks to load up in the audio player, takes a minute.

Fade to black.
Would you like to know more…?

The Lost Tarantino Mixtape

Death Proof

[This is the first in what I hope will be a series of mixtapes that evoke the spirit of auteur filmmakers. I welcome suggestions for future selections. Next will be Wong Kar-Wai. The MP3s available here are for sampling purposes only. Please support the artists by buying their albums and going to their shows. If you are the artist or label rep and don’t want an MP3 featured, please email me]

The following mixtape is all about the art of repurposing, taking songs which have been overlooked by popular soundtracks but which nonetheless possess an allure of the cinematic about them waiting to be explored. These are the same familiar songs we hear playing in the background of a party or a department store, but all of sudden, situated within an overt cinematic context, something clicks and the songs bear new resonance. This playlist is my love letter to the soundtracks of pop cinema, the stand-alone masterpieces of Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and Sophia Copolla, just to name a few. It takes a musical savant like a Quentin Tarantino to provide that special fusion of old familiar sounds in new exciting contexts, side by side with symphonic vista-creating set-pieces of music which come to define the cinematic experiences they are a part of. It also takes a particular kind of music to play cinematically, and even more so, for it to be iconic. I admit there is a geek factor to this display of arcane knowledge in that a part of the joy of this sort of soundtrack comes from the clever deployment of the familiar (one of my favorite examples is ‘He Loves Me’, the Olive Oil croon song from Altman’s Popeye, that hit just the right note in the montage of Punch Drunk Love). Perhaps nobody is better at this then Tarantino whose films are all about repurposing popular culture, and his musical cues are no different. Think of ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ from the ear-slicing scene of Reservoir Dogs, or more recently, the rip-roaring riff that is played during one of the bloodiest scenes in Death Proof, ‘Hold Tight’ by The Who side project, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich.

Some of my other favorites include: ‘Jessie’s Girl’ in Boogie Nights, ‘Mad World’ in Donnie Darko, Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ in Trainspotting, Cowboy Junkies’ ‘Sweet Jane’ in Natural Born Killers, Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey’ in Lost in Translation

So this is my very own Tarantinoesque mixtape. The challenge was to keep the ethos of obscure but solid ditties which possess the cinematic in their repurposing. It became necessary not to covet from pre-existing soundtracks and avoid the more obvious choices, to get to some sort of pure vision of sound as it manifests onscreen. Sometimes I was thinking about the opening music, other times, envisioned set-pieces. Quite by accident my playlist has taken on a two-part structure which evokes Kill Bill, and superficially the soundtrack as well, except in my version the first part remains loyal to a Western vision, the second part succumbing to a teenage delight in pop music.

I should add in closing that I am aware that two of the songs on this compilation were originally used on soundtracks, but I think those sources are so incredibly obscure that I can get away with this, and if you can tell me which ones and from where then you are truly a star.

A single streamed version of the mixtape can be listened to here Individual tracks are beneath the seat.

Fade to black.
Would you like to know more…?