May 20, 2008

INTERVIEW - Nico Muhly Has a Tongue For Your Ear

Falling for Nico Muhly's music was the next logical step; I'm a fan of Philip Glass, Björk, and Antony and the Johnsons, and he's worked with all of them. It's like there's some rowdy street-gang of musicians out there that occasionally puts down their hockey-sticks and paintball guns long enough to conduct an orchestra or release a mindblowing album.

Incidentally, today's the day Nico's new album, Mothertongue, enjoy its digital release (physical album available July 22nd), and while I can't describe it, I also can't stop listening to it.

As you may have guessed, I got Nico to share his top ten horror films, but I'd be remiss if I didn't post the rest of his comments here, or append this one on his choosing The Exorcist over Rosemary's Baby, (submitted via email):

"This actually could be number one, although now I just watch it and wait for her to get that haircut and say, ive BEEEEN to viDAAAL sasSOOOn, so the terror has been replaced by high camp."
Thanks, that made my whole day.
[Click here for the interview!]

TB: Horror and classical music have intersected frequently-- almost symbiotically-- throughout history. Do you think they'll continue to?

NM: I hope that they do! Horror is such an extreme emotion-- specifically suspense, actually-- and I think classical music is really best suited to marry with those kinds of images and narrative vocabulary. In fact I'm not sure what kind of non-classical music could work with horror...


TB: What are some pieces of music that never fail to give you the creeps?

NM: The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky is constantly shudder-inducing. The Arvo Pärt Miserere is good at the awe and the terror of the old testament. And the theme from Rosemary's Baby is scary and simple.


TB: After deciding to do the soundtrack for Joshua did you watch any particular movies for inspiration?

NM: I watched a whole bunch of old movies with Bernard Hermann scores, then some obvious newer ones, like The Omen or whatever, but I tried to avoid giving the filmmakers anything that sounded like other movies... Horror music now I think has lost its intrigue and is just a bunch of bowed cymbals and synthesizers. Bring back the pitch!


TB: Your new album Mothertongue will be many people's first exposure to your music. What do you hope they hear in it?

NM: I hope they hear a very wide breadth of influence on my musicianship and also a real sense of drama (as compared to my first album which is more about texture). Also I would hope that first-time listeners will be excited by the three very different treatments of the human voice.


TB: Can you tell me why you love horror or think it's important?

NM: I like watching horror movies because they remain viscerally scary even in this very plugged-in and otherwise rational age. All those Japanese "ghost in the machine" films opened up whole new realms of things to be scared by, too. When that girl came through the TV in Ringu-- that was major. Unlike, say, science fiction, which I feel like has run its course a bit, good horror can still be a punch to the gut.

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