Friday, July 9, 2010

"Down By Law" Original Soundtrack - (1988)

If John Lurie's music is most aptly described as "fake jazz" (his own description), then there are few better places to experience its fakeness than here. No matter how that sounds, it's a compliment. Lurie's earliest lineups of his Lounge Lizards featured Arto Lindsay in a deconstructive, crunching mode, and the octet that plays the roughly 19 minutes of music for Jim Jarmusch's cult classic Down by Law features not only Lindsay but also his successor, Marc Ribot, among others. They play 13 atmospheric vignettes (again, in 19 minutes!), always forcing the ear back onto the nuggets, as if Lurie is tugging at you to acknowledge that a) his is a strong, idiosyncratic ear for the meeting of auditory and visual elements; and b) his is a music built out of cells like this, which in future versions of the Lounge Lizards have served as the brick and mortar of his additive compositional techniques. Yes, there's too little music from Down by Law, but you do also get nearly 18 minutes of music from Betty Gordon's Variety, this time played with straighter rhythms, albeit ones with titles like "Porno Booth" and "Garter Belt." The band on the latter film's music is Lurie's after-Lindsay outfit, with his brother Evan on piano. The music is stylized without being overstuffed and aptly sultry and noirish. If anyone had doubts about Lurie's manifold talents, this set should confirm that he's been on similar aesthetic roads to his late-1990s bands for many years.

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