Monday, September 24, 2007

Cinematic ft. Mr. Lif & King Britt

A remix album of great orchestral film scores from the 20th century might seem like an odd idea – after all, a lot of this music is considered old-fashioned. But Six Degrees co-founder and executive producer Bob Duskis knew better: “A lot of electronica producers are huge fans of these film scores,” he says. And for the collection Cinematic, “I wanted producers who had a cinematic sense to their music anyway, or had done soundtracks themselves. We didn’t want DJs just adding beats to the orchestral tracks.”
Mission accomplished. Cinematic is full of creative and often provocative arrangements of music by some of the greatest film composers ever – Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone, and Henry Mancini among them. Of course, this music was never satisfied with being accompaniment in the first place; like the best music in any style, these scores suggested their own stories and their own landscapes. No surprise then that they work so well apart from their films. What is surprising is how adaptable these classic scores are, at least when the right producers get hold of them. When Duskis first brought the idea to King Britt, underground hip-hop hero from Philadelphia, he says the immediate response was “Are you kidding? They Call Me Mr. Tibbs is one of my favorite songs of all time!” King Britt then came up with two different remixes. The first is instrumental, full of James Brown horns, a funky groove, and a Sam-and-Dave-meets-the-London-Symphony-Orchestra vibe. The second is a vocal version, where the texture is thinned out to make room for some typically memorable word play from one of underground hip-hop’s most fierce rappers, Mr. Lif (Definitive Jux). Cinematic includes hip-hop, but is not a hip-hop record: it ranges stylistically from Zeb’s electro-tango remix of Mancini’s “The Tango I Saved For You” (from the film Gaily Gaily) to a deep ambient recasting of Inherit The Wind by Tom Middleton (of Global Communications and Jedi Knights). But as Duskis points out, “hip-hop has been sampling movie music for a long time – just think of Wu-Tang Clan and the way they used music from the old Blaxploitation films and the fact that RZA is now an in demand film composer.” So Mark de Clive Lowe contributes an inventive arrangement of the music from Hour of the Gun, featuring Ohio rapper Replife – who name checks both Wyatt Earp and Tupac, in the same line. “Hour of the Gun is a Western,” Duskis explains; “and Mark heard it as a gangsta piece. So the words are political, about how this is a violent time, the hour of the gun.” Cinematic’s pairings of producers with film scores yielded some inspired results. Partly that’s because musical elements that were hinted at in the original were dragged and dropped into the spotlight in the remixes. That is the beauty of Cinematic. You don’t need to know the original films, or the original film scores. The classic soundtracks have always been strong enough to exist apart from their movies. Now, this collection of 14 remixes suggests that you can imagine your own films to them."

Download "They Call Me Mr. Tibbs"

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