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on 8 October 2001
The trick with Nyman's music for this movie is that each piece is based around the theme of repetitiveness. All the tracks are very catchy, mainly because each piece consists of the same piece of music over & over again, the only change usually being a key change.
The music on Zed & Two Noughts is, in my opinion, the work of genius - it's my most favourite piece of movie music of all time.
Maybe not everyone will like Nyman's works here, but to anyone who hasn't heard it - I say it's pure brilliance. The best thing of all about the Zed soundtrack is that it really suits the film it was originally made for - "L'Escargot" in particular.
Since the movie is all about decay, the music has a sense of coldness and death. Some tracks sound like a musical description of somebody/something dying, and the titles of the tracks such as "Car Crash", "Swan Rot" and "Angelfish Decay" only go to prove this fact more so - not just because they describe various scenes from the movie but the music here has the power to make oyu imagine such things.
If you doubt how good this music is, it's probably best if you try and see the film first, so you can see how well the music and movie work together...
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on 6 February 2001
Shorter and less varied than the other Greenaway / Nyman collaborations, this is the least interesting, being based around essentially two pieces of music. It's very strange for Nyman, and for the film itself - it doesn't appear to be based on existing classical music, and the pieces are frantic and near-hysterical, with some stunning fiddle playing. As listening music it suffers from not being varied enough to hold the interest, and the most interesting segment is included in superior, live form in 'The Best of the Michael Nyman Band'.
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on 24 April 2011
I was privileged to see Nyman in person when he toured Melbourne last year. It was all I could do not to leap onto the stage and dance! I bought A Zed and Two Noughts (brilliant title, by the way) on spec. Energetic and always surprising, I was not disappointed.
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on 25 May 2004
Maybe it's because this was the first Nyman soundtrack I heard (way back in 1985) that this is the one that always stood out for me. The album is short enough that you can listen to the whole thing in one sitting (being originally a vinyl release), experiencing the extremes of swirling, almost whurlitzer-like interludes between majestic slabs of stately, or melancholic depending on your persuation, minimalism. If you are thinking of trying a Nyman soundtrack, believe me, this is the one.
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on 24 January 2004
This is one of Nyman's more enjoyable efforts along the lines of his other Greenaway collaboration The Draughtsman's Contract... before the compositions became more serious and melancholic with work like the Piano and Gattaca. Here the mood is light, with lots of cluttered arrangements, weird instrumentation and an unrivalled sense of imagination. It never really gels as a consistent work, but the dividing factors make for excellent standalone listening.
My favourite pieces on this album are the three opening tracks Angel Fish Decay, Car Crash and (my ultimate favourite) Time Lapse, which capture both the spirit of the CD and the accompanying film perfectly. From this point on, the compositions change, too readily, incorporating instrumentation that seems too obvious when taken out of the context of the film... Unlike the soundtrack to the Cook the Thief his Wife and her Lover, the work here never quite makes it to a unified whole... being both repetitive in their arrangements, though un-repetitive in their greatness. Now this is a novel approach when coupled with the concept of the film (ideas of duality, identity, coupling and the limitations of repetition etc)... which can make the mood of the work a little harder to penetrate.
It's still fun though, and certainly features some marvellous instrumentation-work from the Nyman band... not to mention figuring as evidence of the great-man's genius as one of the most intelligent and imaginative composers of the 20th century. You may enjoy this record, what with its schizophrenic depth and wonderfully varied approach to creating rhythm; though be warned... if you haven't seen the accompanying Greenaway film many of the subtle movements and music reference points may be completely lost on you. A minor quibble admittedly... this is still worth a look for the serious musical devotee.
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