Sonic Pleasures: Your Ultimate Autumn Playlist

As the season changes from the torrid sensuality and easy pleasure of summer to the macabre chills and insularity of fall, a sense of nostalgia looms in the air like a voice that says, “Well, here we are again. Better luck this time around?” We alter our cinematic preferences for the season, trade in our Hawaiian shirts for knee highs and sweaters, and become more hermetic by nature—and with all that comes the need for a new set of tunes to please the sonic desires of the colder months.

So although it may not quite feel like the weather has totally changed, it will soon, and even though there are plenty of new albums being released over the coming season, if you’re looking for something to really hit the spot—we’ve got you covered. From modern classical tunes that shatter your heart and make you ache for the things you’ve yet to taste to the whiskey-soaked and maudlin, here’s your alternate fall playlist. Enjoy.

Burial to Release a New EP This Month – Time to Celebrate

A few evenings back, I found myself trying to describe my sonic associations to a friend. Quite inarticulately, I tried to explain that bands like Stars of the Lid and Eluvium are perfectly fit for sticky, languid summer haze, whereas Max Richter and Burial live in the chill of winter. And when it comes to music fit for black nights so cold they pierce your skin and prick up all your senses making you want to dance into oblivion and melt into nothing, no one does it better than enigmatic music producer Burial, who gives us the most delicious electro-dub-ambient swirling  sounds that feel like puffs of cold air bellowing out from your mouth.

He brings you into a pulsing world that blankets your whole body and just feels so damn good no matter how many times you to songs like “Ashtray Wasp” over and over and over again. Last December, Burial—who continues to keep his anonymity—dropped his Truant / Rough Sleeper EP, and now to my grand delight, will be releasing a new EP on December 16th according to NPR. So, in honor of this wonderful news, let’s celebrate by ending your Sunday evening in proper form—blacking the lights, turning on the Christmas lights, sinking into the floor, and covering yourself in the sounds of Burial.

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10 Perfect Albums for Your Rainy Late Summer Afternoon

When describing the deeply sensory and emotional effects of his music, William Basinski once told me that the sense of timelessness in his work is a way to give yourself some meditation and relief, to fall down into the abyss, using the transportive nature of the sounds created to “go back to the womb.” And when it comes to melancholy, grey days such as today there are few greater pleasures one could dream of than diving back into bed, throwing on some beautiful music, and hiding between the notes. Not quite asleep, not quite awake, but simply existing in feeling as you drift off without a care. But alas, work demands we stay upright and carry on, so to better your day, I thought I’d provide you with some stirring and poetically vacant albums for you to soak up. From the ineffable grace of Baskinski’s Disintegration Loops to Max Richter’s ballet of classical and synthetic sound Infra, here’s to making your day a little more contemplative.

   

 

William Basinski – d|p 1.1

   

 

Brian Eno Ambient 1: Music for Airports 

   

 

Max Richter – Infra

   

 

Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92

   

 

Max Richer – 24 Postcards in Full Colour

   

 

Stars of the Lid – The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid 

   

 

Eluvium – Static Nocturn

   

Loscil – Stases

   

 

Tim Hecker – The Ravendeath 1972

 

 

Watermusic – William Baskinski

Director Henry-Alex Rubin Talks His New Emotional Thriller ‘Disconnect’

In contrast to the metaphysical tone poems that seem to be populating our cinemas and hearts, there are a handful of starkly realistic films out this spring that look to truly shed light on the bizarre and ever-changing time that we’re living in. People are plugging in and emotionally turning off, yet we’re better able to engage with a wide mass of people around the world—our inability to navigate personal attachment and real-life communication where the staggering questions lie. With his first narrative feature, director Henry-Alex Rubin mediates on that theme with his thrilling drama Disconnect.

After garnering acclaim for the Academy Award-nominated Murderball, Rubin wanted to try his hand at a fiction feature, and, along with writer Andrew Stern, crafted a large-scale yet emotionally intimate drama that deals with how one small decision or one moment is able to impact an entire network of people. Starring Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgard, Max Thierot, Hope Davis, Paula Patton, Marc Jacobs, Frank Grillo, and Andrea Roseborough, Disconnect is told through multiple interwoven story lines that come together and spin apart to give us a riveting drama and intensely immediate film. 

Last week, I got the chance to chat with Rubin about transitioning into the narrative world, portraying theme over message, and the brilliance of composer Max Richter.

What I enjoyed most about the film was how it kept me gripped and felt very thrilling while still having a lot of emotion. But in terms of storytelling, how did you decide to make the switch from documentary over the narrative film?
Well, like anything, you’re curious to try something you’ve never done before. I was never in a rush to make a fiction movie because I love documentaries, they are my first love and will always be my true love and I will continue making them, but I had read hundreds of scripts and this one moved me. It also seemed to be asking things that I thought were relevant, things I ask myself: how much are you supposed to be on your phone, how much time do you give to the people around you, what’s the etiquette for keeping your phone on the table when you eat dinner—all these questions that no one really has an answer for yet, everyone’s just figuring it out. And I liked that that was food for thought in the movie, and it was clear that I didn’t really have any answers, we were just presenting a movie that was set in the now, that really shows how people IM and text and talk to each other. It’s a normal percentage of our life, mostly we’re still talking, but there’s a percentage of our life that’s spent communicating in other ways, and when you watch movies you don’t really see that because it’s not cinematic. But I don’t think it’s a big deal, the texting and IMing in this movie, to me, feels real.

That also has something to do with the way in which you chose to present it, and your decision to show their conversations in the space next to them rather than simply on a computer or phone screen.
What I tried to do was just have big close-ups of the actor’s faces and watch their faces as they read and react to those messages and then in the negative space next to them, there would be what they’re writing. But I love how you started this conversation, because you said the film was gripping to you yet you also felt something, which is really nice to hear because I’ve seen some very mixed reviews. The negative ones seem to think I’m trying to tell them something preachy and that I have a message. And the other ones, the ones that liked the movie, say it’s moving. And I also feel like it’s a Rorschach test for critics especially. If you watch the movie and sit down with an open heart, you’ll be moved by it; if you go in looking for things wrong with it or looking for messages, I’m sure you could find a lot of things to say. But what I’m interested in is what you feel.

Well, I think that’s the best way to approach anything, especially with something like this that has a lot of ground to cover.
It’s the same as when we made Murderball in that we really talked a lot about the emotions of the movie. We talked about withholding emotion through the whole film and allowing it happen only at the end so that it would be a release and this felt the same way. To me, it’s a thriller in the vein of Traffic or A Separation or The Lives of Others in that those are movies that are dramatic thrillers, in a way. I love a movie where you’re invested and you have empathy for your characters but you’re really gripped at the end you’re nervous or anxious about what the outcome will be.

That’s also true when you have these multiple storylines, which you know are, bound to become interwoven at some point in the narrative. And coming from documentary filmmaking, did that inform your knowledge of how to create these very human, authentic characters.
First and foremost, I just wanted to get it right. So all these stories were pulled out of the headlines by Andrew Stern, the writer, and once they got into my hands, I interviewed people who had experienced all of these things. I interviewed people who had lost loved ones, I interviewed people who been cyber bullies, I interviewed a porn performer, I interviewed FBI agents, I interviewed someone who has lost a child, someone coming back from Iraq, etc. And the more people I interviewed, the more details that came out of these interviews would go right back into the script and refine the script and even change it depending on some of the conversations we had. I also made all these people available to the actors—so that they could if they wanted, get inspired based off the experiences of these real people. As someone coming from documentary and not really knowing how to make a fiction movie, my first concern was getting all the facts straight, or at least drawing on some real life experiences. All the things you do as a journalist, I did before I shot this movie so that I’d be able to get it all right, you know? And one of the greatest compliments I got was from Eric Schmidt, the Chairman of Google, who came to the premiere—which blew my mind—very cool guy, invited him on a lark, and he said, "You got it right." He said it was the first movie that really got the Internet right. You couldn’t get a bigger compliment from a smarter person, for me at least.

It definitely shows both the danger and the possibility of the Internet, which was something that I enjoyed and I didn’t feel like it cast judgment, rather just presented the good and bad as fact of the times.
Definitely. People jump into conclusions that this is an anti-Internet movie or it’s preaching get off your phone, and that first level reaction is probably there because it’s so current and so a part of everyone’s live—it’s like making a movie about running water. I had to get it right or I knew there would be a backlash and although there’s really nothing I could do against people who kind of read the movie on the first level reading, I can only hope there are people like you or Peter Travers, who wrote something very beautiful also, that there’s complexity and that this is a theme and not a message. Traffic was similar, in that its theme was addiction and the war on drugs was its subject, but it was really human. I remember caring so much about Michael Douglas and whether or not he would be able to save his daughter from her addiction. I just love that in movies, when you care about people, where it’s tense and you’re going through emotions watching the movie and yet you care deeply about the characters. And in terms of what you said about documentaries, the only way I knew how to make this movie was just putting up two cameras at all times and letting the actors just talk over each other, move wherever they wanted, or look wherever they wanted—then they were free. And that was more like real life than if I staged it and told them, you have to look here. And with two cameras you could always be able to cut it together, like with a documentary. So the movie looks at times a little eavesdropped because I always had the camera far away or through windows and doorways.

Yes, it did feel very voyeuristic throughout and that idea of looking in on moments we really should not be seeing is intrigiung.
When you watch YouTube videos of people doing stupid shit, you know it’s real, it just looks real, there’s no acting going on. In my mind, that’s the high bar for realism and most movies are so far from real. I love that movie Catfish; you’re watching that movie not knowing whether they made it up or if it’s real. And everyday on set, I was hoping to capture that kind of authenticity in moments between the actors where they weren’t quite acting, just being.

Most of the film felt so naturalistic but then at the crescendo, there’s that slowed down, very stylized moment. Can you tell me a little about that decision in juxtaposition with the rest of the film?
The thing is to me, if you’ve ever experienced a moment or violence or terror or fear, the world really does feel like it slows down and so I wanted to capture that. It’s the only moment where I allowed myself to be a little more cinematic and less naturalistic while being very aware that that moment is going to divide people. I know that most critics will criticize it because up until then, the film is very naturalistic. But that slow motion has been described to me a few times as, the film having its grasp around your neck and you not allowing you to breathe in that moment. I’ve heard that from people, and so I feel like if you’re watching this movie and you care about these characters and you’re in it and empathizing, that moment will be horrific and incredibly effective as a stylistic choice. It will be even possibly more emotional than if the moment flew by in seconds. That said, I know, for a fact, that critics are going to seize on it and say, well that was contrived. But it just depends on whether or not you’re in the story. If you’re not in the story, you’ll just roll your eyes, I think. I’m more interested in emotional violence than violence.

I must admit, my first thought when seeing that scene was Lars von Trier.
Yes, if you’ve seen Melancholia that moment in the beginning and at the that end is very beautiful. But that was less on my mind than like Naqoyqatsi, just a rocket ship burning, tumbling towards the earth with Philip Glass’ music. Suddenly the movie becomes something else.

The cast as whole was really fantastic but could you tell me a little about casting Jason Bateman and why you wanted him for that role?
He considers it his first dramatic performance. But I grew up watching him, like a lot of us, and I always thought he was magnetic and I was always curious to see him do a real dramatic role. He’s done smaller ones before but never anything substantial. So I reached out to him. I asked him to grow a beard so that people would forget him as a funny man, and hopefully the beard helps a little with that. He was totally game to do this performance and he blew me away. It was a little bit of a risk because you never know if the audiences are going to accept someone as a dramatic actor.

Those scenes when he’s on the computer looking for answers, he did such a great job of portraying that sense of desperation and pain. I really hadn’t seen him like that before.
And he doesn’t even speak in those scenes. He blew us all away with how much he could do with just his eyes moving.

And of course, music played a large role in the film, especially Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight.” Personally, that’s the song I’ve always said I want played at my wedding, funeral, all major events really so, it’s a really important song to me and I’ve never heard it featured so heavily in film before.
Oh my god, that’s so awesome that you love that song. I love it too and I’ve loved it for years. It’s so touching, it just really reaches down into something deep. But Max Richter is incredible. He’s really one of the great contemporary classical composers.

And this really utilized the song, especially when it was really blasting over a moment.
That’s what he said too. He licensed it and they used different clips of it in other things but nothing where they’ve actually let the song play out and grow in the way it’s meant to be heard. It was always sort of like a quick cutting to the climax before.We really wove that song, you hear it four times at least.

The last half hour of the movie was pretty much just that.
It was, it was just that growing and growing. That’s so nice to hear though, that you love it. Blue Notebooks, the album it’s on, it’s just so gorgeous. That week with Max Richter was one of the best weeks of my life. I’m a classical music fanatic and so sitting with him in Berlin in his studio, we were just two kids geeking out over our love of music. He would hum things to me and I would hum things back to him, and the score came together really beautifully and organically. You’re not supposed to notice the score that much but if someone does, that’s nice. This piece builds and builds in emotion and so he feels like this is it, he now can out this song to rest.

On This Grey Day, a Tribute to Brilliant Composer Max Richter

For years now, German composer Max Richter has provided the sonic accompaniment to my most fervent emotions. His albums—from Memory House to The Blue Notebooks— are gorgeous and kinetic, wrapping you in a sense of melancholy beauty that’s at once calming and visceral, but always cinematic. Complex and varied, his work amalgamates intelligent and classical pieces with electronic notes that give it a pulse and make his sound entirely unique. And when it comes to his original film soundtracks, there are few modern composers that know how to perfectly score a moment so delicately, bringing the directors vision and emotional and psychological intentions to their highest point.

And today, Henry-Alex Rubin’s first narrative feature, Disconnect, begins its theatrical run. The thrilling and heart-wrenching drama weaves together story lines that reflect the immediacy and dangers of the digital age without preaching, simply shedding light on the strange, strange world we’re living in today. And as a massive admirer of Richter himself, Rubin chose the brilliant composer to score his film, highlighting what could be considered Richter’s masterpiece thus far, the devastatingly stunning "On the Nature of Daylight." Not only does the song play in its entirety multiple times throughout the film, the soundtrack is filled with edits of the tune and weaves its wave throughout, becoming a character of its own in the story—an emotional touchstone for the audience. And when the film hits its crescendo, Richter’s dramatic tones are there to elevate the moment into something beyond words.

So on this rainy day and to honor the soundtrack for the film, I’ve compiled some of Max Richter’s best songs for your sonic pleasure. Take a listen, see the film, and stay tuned for our interview with Rubin coming on Monday. Enjoy.

On the Nature of Daylight, The Blue Notebooks

Into the Airport Hallucination, Waltz With Bashir OST

Infra 8, Infra

The Tree, The Beach, The Sea, Sarah’s Key OST

November, Memoryhouse

Summer 1, Recomposed

 

Ocean House Mirror, Henry May Long OST

Infra 5, Infra

Autumn Music 2, Songs From Before

Perfect Sense End Theme, Perfect Sense OST 

Spring 3, Recomposed

Embers, Memoryhouse

Winter 2, Recomposed

Interior Tears An Idea, Henry May Long OST

Stream Max Richter’s Beautiful Score for Henry-Alex Rubin’s ‘Disconnect’

From the very first time I heard Max Richter’s elegant and stirringly beautiful song "On the Nature of Daylight" I decided that this is the song I want playing at every large event in my life—from my wedding to my funeral. Morbid? No, perfect. It’s an incredibly emotive and deeply melancholy song that was first utilized on film with Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, but now haunts the entirely of Henry-Alex Rubin’s narrative feature debut Disconnect.

It may be possible that Rubin loves this song more than I do, which is something I can always admire in a directorial choice. But not only does the soundtrack feature the original version of the song, Richter has composed the entire thing, which is both a repurposing of some of his earlier songs, new more electronic material, and different edits and variations on "On the Nature of Daylight." 

But using Richter for a film like this is an interesting choice, as he does juxtapose the more classical sound by throwing in contemporary tracks—such as a powerful credit sequence set to AWOLNATION’s "Sail." But the score does evoke the thrilling and psychologically stimulating nature of the story that’s the follow-up to Rubin’s Academy Award-winning documentary Murderball.

Disconnect is a sweeping drama told through multiple interwoven story lines, starring Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgard, Hope Davis, Max Thieriot, Paula Patton, Frank Grillo, Andrea Riseborough, and Marc Jacobs. The intensely emotional and riveting drama about the dangers of the digital age covers everything from online identity theft to vicious bullying and sexual exploitation. And of course, Richter’s score only elevates the performances and moments into a wonderfully heightened realm without being manipulative of our emotions. 

Stay turned for our interview with Rubin later in the week but in the meantime, take a listen to the soundtrack and head over to The Playlist for the chance to win cast-signed posters and Richter’s wonderful soundtrack.

 

See Marc Jacobs, Alexander Skarsgard, & More in New Stills from Henry-Alex Rubin’s ‘Disconnect’

So far, this has been a good year for epic dramas set against a large-scale story of one moment or one decision’s impact on an entire group of people. And with Henry-Alex Rubin’s follow-up to the Academy Award-winning documentary Murderball, the director’s first narrative feature, Disconnect is sweeping story about the dangers and psychological impact of the Internet age.

Told through multiple interwoven story lines, the films stars Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgard, Hope Davis, Max Thieriot, Paula Patton, Frank Grillo, Andrea Riseborough, and Marc Jacobs in an intensely emotional and riveting drama. Covering everything from online identity theft to vicious bullying and sexual exploitation, Disconnect is scored by brilliant composer Max Richter—who knows how to heighten just about any moment to its utmost potential.

And today, a new clip from the film has been released, showing Marc Jacobs as the house leader of a group of young kids entwined in a very seedy, sexual world. The stills for the film also give us a look at Bateman, Skarsgard, Thieriot, and Riseborough who all take on their roles with intensity in the film that debuts this weekend.

Take a look below.

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Watch Max Richter Re-Imagine Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ Live

For years, I have wanted nothing more than to hear London-based German composer Max Richter perform his heart-wrenchingly beautiful compositons live. His albums Infra, The Notebooks, Songs from Before, 24 Postcards in Full Colour, and Memoryhouse have been the soundtrack to the beating of my heart and sonic accompaniment to my passions for years now. And this past Decemeber, I finally had the chance to see him perform, in what was by far one of the most emotionally-charged nights I’ve ever experienced. Held at Le Poisson Rouge, Richter was there to perform his re-imagining of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Re-written with his signature style of amalgamating the electronic and classic words, his composition is painfully wonderful, with strings that wrap their notes around your heart, and proves a more cinematic adaptation of Vivaldi’s work that cuts straight to your gut and unhinges your tearducts with a mix of absolute pleasure and melacholy sadness.

Written with violin soloist Daniel Hope, who gave an energetic stunning performance that night, as the two led the show, a silence fell over the audience like a warm blanket of calm and awe, and all enraptured in what was being played before them and fed into their brainwaves. And to my surprise, when the Four Seasons wrapped, Richter reemerged on stage with a quartet to play the entirely of Infra plus favorites "On the Nature of Daylight," "November," and "Sunlight." Needless to say, I could have died happy right there against the crowded bar.

Thankfully, NPR was there recording the event in its entirely and as of today you too can watch the hauntingly brilliant performance. Warning: you may find yourself sobbing at your desk, keep some tissues on standby. Enjoy.

‘Gangster Squad’ Cast Gets a Noir Makeover

2012 has been an interesting year for cinema—both for Hollywood and independent film. We’ve fallen in love with indie wonders and foreign hits like Beasts of the Southern Wild, Sound of My Voice, and Holy Motors, while still getting swept up in Silver Linings Playbook, The Master, and Argo. But as it’s only the second week in December, there’s still Django Unchained, Amour, and Les Miz (set to be released in the coming weeks) to keep us rolling into theaters. But between January’s Sundance Film Festival and the slew of films to be released in the late winter months, we’re looking to the New Year with savory anticipation. And one of the films that seems as if we’ve been waiting forever for to see is Ruben Fleischer’s nod to old Hollywood, Gangster Squad.

After a few set backs along the way—with necessary reshoots, a reworked finale, and marketing change—the film will finally burst into theatres on January 11 and we’re excited to see what the cast of leading men and Emma Stone (in a role that looks to be a more siren-esque than we’ve seen her before) will deliver for us. The 1949-set gangster film stars Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi, and Anthony Mackie in a flashy shoot-em-up crowd-pleaser that tells the story of LAPD officers fighting to keep the East Coast mafia off their golden streets.

As an added promotional bonus for the film, photographer Estevan Oriol rounded up the cast for a series of minimalistically stylish and slick black and white portraits that harken back to the leading men of classic noir. But looking at these great photos, you can’t help but wonder—what if Fleischer had chosen to shoot the film with this aesthetic? What if the film was filled with some Gordon Willis-esque shadowplay and say, Cliff Martinez and Max Richter covering the music for the film? What if he took the pacing down a notch, with less explosions and thrills and more smokey simmering? Damn, that would have been good. But maybe this will be too! I have only seen the trailers afterall. Either way, check out the photos from the shoot and two additional featurettes

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