Review : Various Artists - Norman OST
PitchforkIt's been four years since Juno and seven since Garden State, which means we're due for another carefully soundtracked independent film celebrating young white folks' ability to find love despite crippling quirkiness. Right on schedule, here comes Norman, a 2010 festival-circuit selection rolling into theaters across the country with all the proper credentials: the square-peg protagonist (here, the titular Norman), the sweetly bumbling dalliance with an equally off-kilter would-be soulmate (Emily, "a girl who likes Monty Python"), the heavy-hanging bleakness of some unfortunately timed personal tragedy (the death and illness of Norman's parents).
Then, of course, there's the music, a soundtrack released a few weeks before the movie's super-limited national opening. But while the names on the tracklist read with the same indie-ish panache as those of Garden State and Juno, the two best-selling sophomore-year mix tapes in history, Norman takes a more focused approach. The film's score was composed and performed by Andrew Bird, a move that should shock no one faintly familiar with the classically trained multi-instrumentalist: Over the course of five solo albums, his swooping melodies and carefully built arrangements have all but pleaded to be overlaid on celluloid. Ten of his Norman tracks are original instrumental pieces that, even when taken out of their intended context (as we experienced them, unable to catch one of the movie's limited screenings before press time), fit nicely among his existing catalog.
"3:36" is perhaps the most readily-identifiable as a Bird song, its nervous, gnawing waves pocked with violin pizzicato and eerie whistling, his dual touchstones that he's almost always better off ditching. Here, though, they're used sparingly, maximizing their effect. When the dreadful pulse that opens first track "Scotch and Milk" repeats three tracks later on "Hospital", the ominous thrum glowers, grows heavy, then finally gives way to mournful violin pulls and plucks. That textural push-and-pull defines the score, Bird's strings caustic against the smooth, near-perpetual hum of the organ (or maybe it's a hurdy-gurdy, or deeply distorted violin loop-- whatever it is, its pitiless drone is so reminiscent of Wendy Carlos' analog-synth soundtrack to The Shining that Bird seems bound to one day score a horror flick). Here, if not for the gentle, almost mischievous lope of "The Kiss/Time and Space/Waterfall", the title of which tells its own little story, the tension would be nearly unbearable....full text
InsoundMom + Pop's soundtrack to the new indie film, Norman, includes the first ever original instrumental film score by Andrew Bird, and new and previously released songs by Andrew Bird, Wolf Parade, Chad VanGaalen and The Blow with Richard Swift.
Norman is a film by Jonathan Segal. Fresh from awards on the festival circuit, Norman is to be released October 21" nationally in six major markets including NY, LA, Spokane, Chicago, Boston & Seattle. Norman long is a high school loner, a self-aware and darkly funny teen who's just trying to handle his daily high school existence. An unexpected set of life changing circumstances spins his world upside down and then ultimately right side up. With love, humility and a heavy dose of truth he emerges to face challenges not meant for a boy his age.
For his first ever film score Andrew Bird stayed true to his own sound and the cinematic quality of the work is a perfect match for the unimaginable story of Norman....full text
TelegraphNorman Jayís father came to Britain from Jamaica in the Fifties to work on the London Underground. By the mid Seventies, Normanís big brother Joey was running a sound system at the Notting Hill Carnival called Great Tribulation. The name summed up the lot of young black Britons, and the hard-core reggae it played told a corresponding story of despair and confrontation.
But as the Eighties dawned, little Norman joined the team, playing something new: funk, disco and Philly soul Ė sounds that were upbeat, optimistic and welcomed white listeners too. And so in 1981 the system was renamed for the classic Chic song of 1979, Good Times.
In the intervening 30 years, the championing of social harmony and positive music has brought Norman Jay a long way. Awarded an MBE in 2002, at 53 he is a symbol of black British self-determination, the representative of street culture who is invited on to Question Time.
Good Times, meanwhile, has long since become an integral part of Carnival, drawing huge crowds, black and white, young and old. The system has also given its name to an excellent series of compilations curated by Jay.
This latest outing continues his pursuit of the best in black music, old and new Ė with the emphasis as ever on the uplifting.
Representing fresh talent is rising soul star Avery Sunshine of Chester, Pennsylvania, whose I Got Sunshine has a hint of gospel and a Sixties flavour highly reminiscent of Britainís own chart-topping Adele. Lush strings are to the fore in tunes by Ted Taylor and Zalmac, thereís a Curtis Mayfield rarity and Jay revisits the Philly sound that he once championed with the Little Anthony and the Imperials 1973 slowie I Donít Have Time to Worry.
Soon he moves forward in time with the gentle hip hop of The Basement Khemist and finally arrives at the modern era with the standout Forever This, a rousing house track featuring the unmistakably plaintive vocals of a pre-fame Cee Lo Green.
Jay has said that he always DJs as if heís playing for friends and family, and that spirit of warmth and inclusiveness is what unifies these 16 disparate songs.
His typical crowd he describes as embracing ďyardies and Sloanes, nerds and Northern soul nutsĒ. More than just party music, Jayís mixture of celebration and acceptance is a fitting soundtrack to his home town, embodying through music the qualities that make London the most racially tolerant city in the world....full text
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