glass notes
Pick of the Week – Deel’s Song

For those of you who have seen the film Undertow, you feel my pain.  I bought the OMM CD at Lincoln Center Tower Records in probably 2005 (?).  It was right when OMM started really releasing a lot of music, but a new Philip Glass score to a film which appeared, according to the cover art and the liner notes to be of a tone to which I'm generally sympathetic.  So much so that I bought the film on DVD probably a year after that because I was so intrigued by "what sort of story could this beautiful music be accompanying."  I was severely disappointed.  Such is the life of the film composer: you are hired to do a job and you make the best of it. 

The three first tracks on the soundtrack bring you into this world, which before seeing the movie, I imagined to be a subdued frightful intensely personal story full of off-kilter dread and romance.  Again, most of that had to do with me projecting.  

The music for Undertow is not a well-rounded masterpiece the way The Hours is.  After the initial tracks, it plays out its grittiness, specifically with the extensive use of the didgeridoo which Glass became interested in around 2000 to 2005 (Voices, Naqoyqatsi, Orion), but it is occasionally exposed as having an undersized orchestra and doesn't seem to pull itself together in latter part of the album experience.  With that said, the unexpected gem of a find which I'd like to bring attention to is the track "Deel's Song." 

For my part, I cannot remember Philip Glass ever being so "tender."  After the Hours Glass embarked on a very intensive period of scoring for larger budget films among which Undertow was something of a minor effort. But when hearing "Deel's Song" I can't help but feel that this was Philip Glass at his film composer zenith.  He was composing the inner emotions of the character rather than the outward dramatic action or the viewer's idea of what the viewer was feeling. We the viewers were observing the emotions of the situations through music. When this type of thing is successful, it's film composing at its highest level and I think we find that here. 

Deel's Song from Undertow:

Deel's Song

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