[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.
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.