The strings scream — I mean SCREAM! — and all the jangled nerves in the house can’t help but follow suit.
Jarring, hypnotic, bombastic and understated all at once, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s equally beatific and bracing score for the gripping “There Will Be Blood” is among the best in recent memory, a modernist backdrop to a sepia-toned Old West.
It got me reminiscing about some of my favorite movie soundtracks/scores. And so without further ado, rent these flicks, and turn the volume up already:
“Koyaanisqatsi”: Ever heard the one about a certain minimalist composer?
Knock knock. Who’s there? Philip Glass. Knock knock. Who’s there? Philip Glass.
Yeah, Glass gets flack for being repetitive, but he’s so attuned to nuance and subtle musical shadings that his works are more meditative than monotonous.
A landmark experimental film, “Koyaanisqatsi” contrasts breathtaking natural landscapes with the machinations of modern man, commenting on the role that technology plays in reshaping our universe. Its musical accompaniment follows suit, mingling Old World Indian chants with Glass’ by turns dark, foreboding and majestic score, which is every bit as breathtaking as the settings they soundtrack.
“Gummo”: This gruesome little flick, blacker than a set of charred lungs, opens with a brutal scene of a boy drowning a cat in a garbage can. And somehow, the soundtrack is even more vicious: from Bethlehem’s suicidal black metal to Eyehategod’s Dixie punk bloodletting, this disc could satiate a neutron bomb’s appetite for destruction.
Genuinely repulsive, “Gummo” explores the impoverished remnants of a small Ohio town ravaged by a tornado years earlier. It becomes a sort of hell on earth, with a soundtrack that offers plenty of screams from the abyss.
“Repo Man”: “Ordinary f!@#ing people, I hate ’em” — that’s pretty much the defining sentiment of this jagged little chunk of cinematic arsenic, as voiced by po-faced repo man Bud (Harry Dean Stanton).
The greatest punk rock movie off all time benefits from a soundtrack as fierce and unrelenting as its protagonist’s near-permanent sneer. A gritty tour of the open sore that is early ’80s L.A., “Repo Man” is a biting, farcical, sci-fi gut check with the Circle Jerks, Black Flag and Suicidal Tendencies supplying a buffet of fists to gorge on.
“Paris, Texas”: Ry Cooder’s score is as seductive as this film’s elusive muse, a young, gorgeous Nastassja Kinski.
This movie is all about losing oneself — literally and figuratively — posited upon a father (again, Harry Dean Stanton) and his son’s quest to reunite with the woman who left them behind.
Full of Cooder’s aching, lonesome steel guitar work, the dusty, sunbaked soundtrack will haunt you like Kinski does Stanton’s weary psyche.
Jason Bracelin’s “Sounding Off” column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 383-0476 or e-mail him at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com.