When Britpop superstar Damon Albarn was asked to write the score for a film about cannibals, no one expected him to turn to classical composer Michael Nyman for help. So was this strange collaboration a success?
Saturday 28 August 1999
Ravenous, which opens on 10 September, is a film with a troubled history. Two directors came and went before its star, Robert Carlyle, sent an SOS to Bird, who arrived like a one-woman cavalry to rescue the movie from disaster. Albarn agreed to help them out with the music on one condition - that the veteran movie composer and celebrated minimalist Michael Nyman help him lose his film-score virginity.
"He wanted me as a collaborator and hand-holder," explains Nyman, whose score-writing credits include The Piano and The Draughtsman's Contract. "He'd never done a film score before, so there were lots of things he was totally unaware of. I was both nursemaid and work-colleague."
Albarn was an apt pupil. "I felt like the sorcerer's apprentice," he recalls. "I'd be sitting at one end of the studio, and Michael would be at the other, watching the monitor, listening to the mix, and writing another piece of music at the same time."
Their score for Ravenous reflects the sinister script: horror chords from an army of Moog synthesisers; bluegrass rhythms; Native American laments. For his research, Albarn went to a mountain reservation in Oregon: "A week with a guy called Quilt Man, in the greatest state of grass-induced sedation of my life."
At Sir George Martin's Air Studios in Hampstead, London, the two composers got down to work. "Damon responded to the film's more gruesome moments, and I was grateful for that, because my music doesn't really respond to those situations," says Nyman. "I would have done the Bernard Herrmann bit if I'd had to, but Damon had already evolved a musical language, full of weird sounds and textures." Albarn puts it rather more bluntly: "I really revel in writing music to aggression and bloodshed and gore."
The experience of working with Nyman has propelled Albarn towards other film projects. He has just completed the soundtrack for A Decent Ordinary Criminal, with Kevin Spacey, and is currently working on Reykjavik 101, a drama set in the Icelandic club scene. The benefits for Nyman have been rather different. "I don't think I'll ever really become a rock musician, but now I can talk about `me and Damon', it gives me a certain amount of street cred."
The `Ravenous' soundtrack is released by EMI on 13 September; Michael Nyman's soundtrack for the film `Wonderland' is released by Virgin on 30 August
Life & Style blogs
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassing leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
£15000 - £16800 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A key client in the East Midlands are re...
£21000 - £31000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobWe are looking ...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The Job...Due to continued ...