MP3: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

February 19, 2015 | By


Birdman2014_sScore: Very Good

LabelMilan Records

Released:  October 14, 2014

Tracks / Album Length:  22 tracks / (77 mins.)

Composer: Antonio Sanchez

Special Notes:  n/a




Recalling Antonio Sanchez’ impressive drum solo during a tour with Pat Metheny’s band, director Alejandro González Iñárritu engaged Sanchez to compose a score for Birdman using drums, first starting off with demo tapes from improv sessions, then re-recorded versions / tightened improvs after the demos had been edited into the soundtrack.

Although Sanchez’ music is sparse – most of the cues run less than 2 mins – they nevertheless reflect the disintegrating mental state of Riggan, a former big screen star attempting a career rebirth by mounting a Broadway production of a Raymond Carver tale written, directed by, and starring himself. Sanchez riffs, layered textures, and occasional creates effects (“Almost Human” is rich in dense textures that wind down to a kind of barely perceptible heartbeat, whereas “Schizo” is aptly schizophrenic in its rippling, clattering waves of nervous energy) are perfect matches for a character always on the go, juggling more hats than humanly possible, and dealing with relationships that are deeply dented and are often interrupted by outburst of rage.

Some cues also function as transition devices, adding a pulsing rhythm (“Doors and Distance”) to Iñárritu’s epic tracking shots down hallways and up / down staircases, and one can even argue the bass drum hits just accentuate the physical labyrinth Riggan must travel through just to get from the stage where chaos is reigned in, to his dressing room that ultimately ends up in tatters from his own snits.

Given the brevity of the score, perhaps the question is Does it work as an album, if not a suite of the score’s material (about 28:25)? Absolutely, and if it helps the wary, three cuts have brief synth sections, and the final end credits track runs over 6 mins.

More than anything, the score shows what one can accomplish with a singular instrument (a feat similarly accomplished by Dave Grusin, who used the innards of his piano for The Firm), carefully miked to fill the stereo image, and be as vivid and creative as possible.

Filling out the album are fuller versions of the classical music extracts by Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Adam,s and Rachmaninov.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Soundtrack Reviews

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