The Films of Kenneth Anger

Kenneth Anger died earlier this month at the fine old age of 96. Flipping the script on my usual soundtrack review concept of highlighting film composers, Anger was not a musician but a short film director who filmed his projects without live sound or dialogue, then completed them by adding in recorded music. 


Soundtrack: Chico Hamilton Quintet / Repulsion 

As the opening credits roll, a woman’s eye fills the screen. A stark tympani begins to pound away aimlessly accompanied by a vague distant electric drone. As the camera slowly zooms out the percussion gives way to a melody played on solo flute. The mood is hard to nail down – is it… reflective? Plaintive? Resigned? Just depressing? 

So begins Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, starring Catherine Deneuve with music rendered by Chico Hamilton Quintet.


Soundtrack: Toru Takemitsu / Pale Flower

The music created by Toru Takemitsu for the 1964 Masahiro Shinoda film ‘Pale Flower’ has as much invention in the art of writing for film as any I’ve ever encountered. Like most good soundtracks, the cues are fairly sparse. But when they accompany the action it’s for a good reason and they have an impact, and the effect is unique in that brass and string arrangements may be supplemented by percussion like bin-sasara or hyoshigi, as Takemitsu was a giant in Japanese film for being one of the first to score using native Japanese instruments.

Music Friends / Soundtracks

Soundtrack: Devin Sarno

Devin Sarno’s music is, to my ears, a natural for creating counterpoint to moving images. It usually starts off very quietly before building into a crescendo of multi-layered, often feedback-driven music characterized by unknowable overtones and harmonics. It might be meditative. It might be inscrutable. It might be terrifying. With Sarno one never knows in advance! 


Soundtrack: Michael Small / Klute

Listening to the LP of the soundtrack of the 1971 film Klute. Strange piano with what sounds like… what is that tone-bending instrument? Celesta? Glass bells? Wind chimes? Very interesting musical sequence for a mainstream film. Who is this composer? Seems I would have heard of someone so original before. Harry Partch? Terry Riley? Jerry Goldsmith on peyote?