When it comes to atmosphere, the sad, sometimes rainy soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch' excellent indy movie "Stranger than paradise" has it all, allthough it's only fair to say that it's a short and minimalistic experience: only 20 something minutes long. Maybe therefor the album has a wild, chaotic musical set piece called "The ressurrection of Albert Ayler" as a bonus. But the twenty minute score for "Stranger than paradise" is perfect nontheless. A string quartet plays John Lurie's understated tunes. The composer has an eye for detail and touching notes, just the way he acts in the movie itself: a flinch, a sigh, a gesture often is enough and all is filled with a feel of "real", of "genuine" and that's the strength of both the movie and its music.
John Lurie's second musical collaboration with Jim Jarmusch (if we skip his saxophone playing cameo appearance in "Permanent vacation" for a minute) is "Down by law" and it's both sad and good that he didn't repeat himself. The score for "Down by law" is more experimental, more filled with little pieces of wickedness en weirdness. It's also shorter than a regular soundtrack, but this one too has another Lurie piece, "Variety", as a bonus.
"Mystery train" is, to round up things, the third and last Lurie / Jarmusch collaboration. Because this movie has some Elvis themes in its core, the strings are replaced by electric guitar. But that doesn't mean that the intimacy of the first two Lurie soundtracks is gone: Lurie draws from his electric guitar the same atmosphere as before, giving us hints of saddness, loneliness and some "plingplungs" of deadpan humor.
P.S. John Lurie directed a t.v. series called "Fishing with John" for which he also made the music. One of his guests is Jim Jarmusch, so maybe, with the release of this cd, we have a Lurie/Jarmusch quartet anyway.