Palo Alto [Original Motion Picture Score]
Perfect timing for me arriving at this on the back of revisiting the score for Only God Forgives – there’s something similar, in the gauziness perhaps; Peter Gabriel’s Slow Marimabas replaced by the different dance of almost agonisingly awkward (and slow) synth pads. But it’s full of beautiful darkest-before-the-dawn, punch-drunk moods. I’ll see the film one day, sure. Why not? And I’ll listen extra hard for the score – no doubt buried by scenery-chewing indie-film actors, or submerged due to the film’s lack of self-awareness and so-serious high importance. None of that matters – because Devonte Hynes (Blood Orange) has created a textural piece here that has a couple of hints of his subverted day-glo pop song shtick (the opening, title piece and the other “song” here, April’s Daydream) but it also establishes Hynes as composer outside and away from the Blood Orange reverie.
A lot of this album’s brief running time (just 30 minutes) is taken up by brief cues – as is often the way with score. But the four-minute piano instrumental, Fred Drives, is the standout outside of the three vocal cuts. Stark chords cutting through in a way similar to those frozen torch ballads of Barb Jungr, the space that Cliff Martinez makes inside his film-score pieces, a waft of the overly dramatic; it’s so many things inside one simple-seeming glide.
Elsewhere the simple punctuation of a synth stab (Skateboard Garage) might not mean a lot in the context of the film – might be missed – but it works when assembled with other, gentle studies such as Teddy Loves April (hints there of those beguiling, almost-against-type pieces that Aphex Twin created to fill out the drill’n’bass madness on his Drukqs album).
Then there pieces such as Emily & Fred (Part 1) and Emily & Fred (Part 2) that are reminiscent of the work Sebastien Tellier offered on last year’s wonderful Confection. Same with the cue Teddy and Fred In The Playground in fact.
Some really lovely music here and if the film barks like a dog or is just lovably barking mad, either way, this music can stand alone.