Elliot Goldenthal - Fire Water Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio (1996)

after posting the Good Thief soundtrack, i googled Goldenthal and it turns out he's a decently well respected composer as well. if you're looking for sexy chamber jazz or trip-hop interludes, you won't find them here. this is SERIOUS CONCERT MUSIC godammit, elevated to such by the presence of the OC's Pacific Symphony, no less than 3 choirs (!), 2 vocal soloists, and Yo Yo fucking Ma. it's not avant-garde by any stretch - there are few modern techniques and overall the work owes more to John Adams' minimalism and non-functional tonality (think Harmonielehre and Dr. Atomic) and romantic-era tone poems (Berlioz, especially) than it does to Stockhausen or Boulez. and despite its art music overtones, Goldenthal occasionally falls prey to a filmic mindset, with heavy reliance on the strings in the brutal Scherzo, and the odd "Law & Order murder scene" chord progression.

despite all that, i think this is pretty good. those propulsive James Newton Howard-ish filmic elements give the impression of an underlying narrative, like the music is taking you somewhere instead of making you wait 5 minutes for something rad to happen. and besides, there are some really sublime moments that will catch your breath (4:30-5:45 of track 3). judge it for yourself.

and it's about the Vietnam War or some shit

5 Responses so far.

  1. Lique says:

    I also like his Frida soundtrack.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Heavy stuff, thanks!

  3. Cec says:

    James Maddalena! I thought I heard Nixon in there... This is great. You are why I visit this blog.

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