Sunday, October 3, 2010

Factotum - Music From The Motion Picture - (2006)

It may seem odd that a notable Norwegian director (Ben Hamer) would be the one to make a movie about a tortured, against-the-grain cult writer and poet (Charles Bukowski, played by Matt Dillon) who spent all but two years of his life in Los Angeles. But the good news for music fans is the important larger discovery of the incredibly diverse and captivating Scandinavian jazz composer and vocalist Kristin Asbjørnsen. Even without images, the soundtrack to Factotum functions quite well by itself as a haunting, complex, atmospheric work with varied moods and instrumentation. The opener "On the Bus" is just over a minute but brings back magnificent creepy memories of Twin Peaks. After "Reunion," a subtle and graceful solo piano piece, is the chamber music-flavored "I Wish to Weep," featuring the composer's smoky, emotional vocals toiling sweetly over a simple Bukowski poem/lyric that gives the words a scorching urgency. There are other similarly flavored lead vocals (most notably, the classical/folk-tinged "Slow Day,") but Asbjørnsen proves herself equally adept at creating moods with wordless vocals ("Farewell I," "Beside You"). Amidst the largely melancholy vibe of most of these tracks is the rumbling and percussive acoustic jazz magic of the quirkily titled "Pickles." Asbjørnsen, making her composing debut, performs these pieces with her band Dadafon, drawing inspiration not only from her formal jazz education nbut also her love for West African griot singers. A fascinating work. (

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