66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss The Point!
OK. Reading through the comments about how the music on KOYAANISQATSI is repetitive angered me. Having seen the film upon its initial release, my wife and I were moved beyond words by the "beauty" and "sadness" of a world where sometimes, it seems, sausage casings are more important than the rain forests. Secondly, while I'm NOT a fan of Philip...
Published on January 26, 2000 by Ralph Quirino
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not "out of balance" enough
First the good news: it's great to have (nearly) all of the film's music on a CD. Issusing it in little pieces, the way they did with the original LP, was frustrating because we could not follow how the score's structure, but there was an excuse: the entire work could not fit without breaks on an LP, and a two-LP set was deemed too expensive. But in the age of CD they...
Published on February 19, 2002 by The Man in the Hathaway Shirt
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66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss The Point!,
OK. Reading through the comments about how the music on KOYAANISQATSI is repetitive angered me. Having seen the film upon its initial release, my wife and I were moved beyond words by the "beauty" and "sadness" of a world where sometimes, it seems, sausage casings are more important than the rain forests. Secondly, while I'm NOT a fan of Philip Glass' music, I loved the initial film soundtrack. Its simple beauty is stark, haunting, intense. The repetition is there FOR A REASON: it mimics the routine of our own existences. It forms a musical mandelbrot pattern (sorry if you don't understand what that means, I have no other way of describing it) that comes damn close to being as organic as nature itself is. The rerecording of the score in 1998 brings this important, intense music back into the limelight after being absent from MOST store shelves for far too long. If you're thinking of buying this without understanding Glass or how he composes music, the repetitive factor WILL annoy and disappoint you. You'll miss the point: this is music from the dawn of creation and for the end of all time. KOYAANISQATSI imprints moving images where man and nature, time (a uniquely human concept) and nature (where there is no concept of time) collide in your mind and does so better than virtually ANY post-modern piece of classical music written in the latter quarter of the 20th century. Listen intently and you WILL be moved. Expect traditional values and you'll be angry you bought it. While I listen to all kinds of music, this is the stuff I listen to when I feel insignificant and small. In the face of the universe, Glass' timeless sounds connect me to a greater cosmic whole. I'm not one for spirituality (I'm far too material for that!). But surely, this is the sound of the universe in glorious chaos.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Surprise!,
Initially the tag "Re-recording" did concern me, and to be honest I didn't notice that until after I bought the CD. Having seen the movie once back in 1985, and owning the 1983 Soundtrack on LP, this new CD had some big shoes to fill. I sat back, put the headphones on 8, and settled in for some re-discovery. I was blown away. To people who were disappointed with the sound on this CD, I can only hope your player is not a YORX. The re-recording is amazing. The 22 minute version of the GRID moves like a 3 minute pop song. The 'new' tracks are great, but it's so cool to hear the extra stuff in the older tracks. The middle part in the GRID (Deleted from the vinyl) really adds to the piece as a whole. I'm a huge Glass fan, and this recording remains my favorite. Far from disappointing, this new version (which uses a lot of the same players from 1983) is a great addition to my, and hopefully your library. Buy it and open your mind.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth getting the new version,
I'm sure most of those interested in this CD probably already own or know the original recording released of this title. This re-issue is worth getting even if you own the previous version because of the addition of extra material. The previous version was significantly cut down to accomodate the vinyl record format. The music now flows much better and it's good to get back passages that you remember from the movie. If you enjoyed the original, I do suggest getting this version. My only wish now is that the film was shown more often in theaters. Watching Koyaanisqatsi on video virtually defines the term inadequate.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not "out of balance" enough,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
First the good news: it's great to have (nearly) all of the film's music on a CD. Issusing it in little pieces, the way they did with the original LP, was frustrating because we could not follow how the score's structure, but there was an excuse: the entire work could not fit without breaks on an LP, and a two-LP set was deemed too expensive. But in the age of CD they should have put much more of the score on the compact disc. Now along comes this version. It's a godsend in that we get the organic development of the piece, and the ability to listen to it as a whole. For just one example, I like the way part of Resource, where in the film we see man-made waterways and dams, is a variation on Organic, where we see nature's dams and waterways. Musically, the Grid is a variant on Vessels, just as is the content. When one hears the score in sequence, one understands it wasn't just a series of minimalist episodes sewn together willy-nilly. There's a structure just as there is in a classical symphony or a sonata.
It's hard to hear this work with fresh ears today. Various elements from the film and the score have been cannibalized over the years, and both lose their some of their impact today. Someone who only recently saw this film thought it was full of visual cliches. I had to explain to him that they were not yet cliches in the early 1980s, before the advent of rock videos and fast-paced TV commercials. (In fact, some of the actual images from Koyaanisqatsi and its sequel have been used in commercials to sell everything from beer to cars...ironic, isn't it?) This recording, the first "nearly-complete" recording of the score, is a reminder of just what an impact this film had twenty years ago.
Now the bad news: the forces on this album, many of whom are the same ones who worked on the film, give a much more mellow and bland performance. The intense, manic sections aren't intense and manic enough. Many of the texturs are simplified and, believe it or not, prettified. The whole thing sounds too smoothed, and as another person points out, is recorded with a little too much reverb, further muddying the accents and crisp figures. Some of the more disappointing sections are Pruit Igoe and sections of The Grid, where in the original voices are far more animated and bright. (Also, this choir seems to have difficulty singing in tune in parts of "The Grid.") Trumpets are also weak, and it sounds as though there are fewer of them than on the original sountrack, though I haven't checked. It helps to play it through an equalizer and pump up the tremble and midrange and turn down the bass, but that only helps so much. In the liner notes (in which they misspell producer Francis Ford Coppola's name, amazingly), Glass comments that the ensemble is more sure-footing in this music now that they've had two decades to become familiar with the score and the musical language. Maybe so, but familiarity in this case has brought with it glibness and a casual quality that does not suit the music.
Overall this is probably worth getting, especially if you have been frustrated by the edit of the original. But this recording, valuable as it is (what competition does it have?) isn't quite definitive. It's not as intense in many spots as it needs to be, as the film and the subject matter cries out for. What I'd really love to see is the entire score from the film put on CD. Or two, since it's about 87 minutes.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this is not road trip music,
By A Customer
this has remained one of my favourite recordings by Glass; indeed, it has remained one of my favourite recordings, period. when i first listened to this, i was utterly transfixed for about half an hour before i noticed how long i'd been sitting there listening.
having seen the 1982 film several times, i've noticed the differences between this and the original recording... although this new version lacks the "bite" of the original sound (i agree that some tracks such as "Resource" sound overly lush on this CD), i prefer it if only for its amazingly accurate and powerful performance, especially in the a cappella section of "Vessels" which i thought sounded rather sloppy originally. of course, the fact that this is the only near-complete recording of the music also figures in anyone's decision between this and the previous edited release.
that being said, this is one of the best film scores i have ever heard. Glass' expansive gestures and dark tone create a forceful and immediate effect, right from its opening bars until the final resolution of the same harmony at the end. this music seems to me to move in a colossal orbit, the sheer scale of which can only be realized if you listen through the whole length of it... and it is quite a moving experience.
enjoy this excellent CD.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Performance Lacks Menace,
"Koyaanisqatsi" can be seen as Glass's masterpiece; the marriage of his epic score to Reggio's devastating film. It is sad that in re-recording the score, they couldn't recapture the vigor and frontal prominence of the original recording. It is obvious this performance is far removed from the Cold War era in which the film was born. While more clear in sonic quality than its predecessor, it is far too staid and reserved a performance to suit the film. It's as if the piece itself was performance-worn and the players at a loss for vision. This could be the conductor's intent, however; the minimalist movement has never based on passion, but rather meticulous, ever-changing repetitions that sound as if produced by a machine, but alas, could never be. It would have been suitable for "Koyaanisqatsi", however, to be able to feel the human spirit trying to break free of the machine. In 1985, I had the pleasure of seeing the film with this group of players performing the score live. Although that was the nineteenth time I had seen the film, I was devastated by the explosive interpretation of the score, which was markedly different from the original. If they consider using this recording on the DVD release of the film, I hope they will also include the 1983 recording on an alternate audio channel.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars CD better sound; DVD better performance,
A prior reviewer asked, "why would you buy the CD version with lower sound quality, when the DVD with 48kHz 5.1 surround sound is available for less?" I will answer that question, since I own both the DVD of the original 1983 film and the audio CD of the 1998 soundtrack re-recording. (I have also seen the film at a theater with Philip Glass himself leading a live orchestral performance of the musical score.)
The prior question assumes, erroneously, that just because a DVD (48kHz, 5.1 channel surround) is capable of having better sound quality than an audio CD (44 kHz, 2 channel stereo), that it must be better. In this case, it is not. The original soundtrack on the DVD contains noticeable tape hiss, limited dynamic range, as well as numerous distortions common to many decades-old analog master tapes. The sound quality of the 1998 CD re-recording is absolutely pristine. (And, by the way, the performance on 1998 version of the CD does not cut out the substantial portions of the original as was the case with the earlier CD of the soundtrack.)
Having said that, I actually prefer the original DVD soundtrack. The performance on the newer audio CD is good, but it lacks a certain emotional vitality that was present on the original DVD. The newer performance seems a bit dull and lifeless, despite being technically superior.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Philip Glass Masterpiece (SEE THE MOVIE FIRST!),
Koyaanisqatsi is classic Glass, and is his most daring film score. Here, Glass succeeds in bridging the gap between his experimental minimalism and mainstream film media. It is however wise to caution: this soundtrack cannot be appreciated fully until one has seen the film. Indeed, Glass' music and Godfrey REggio's visuals are so interwoven they seem organic, living and breathing together. Thus, certain tracks, such as Cloudscape or Pruit Igoe cannot be fully understood unless one knows the visuals behind them. Also, one of the true masterpieces of Glass' career, the 20 minute long "The Grid", will be totally lost on people who have not seen the film's sequence of the same name, chronicling the lives of people acting along predetermined channels of activity (one of the greatest sights in cinema). My personal favourites from this soundtrack are the first and last tracks. In the title, "KOyaanisqatsi", Glass set out to create a music that was "ahistorical", that could have come from any period and any place in the world. This deep vocal track accompanied by a haunting organ is, in my opinion, Glass' single greatest piece, and can be appreciated outside the film. The final track, "Prophecies", is a further elaboration of this device, as Glass uses minimalist organ accompanied by beautiful choral arrangements, ultimately ending in a inverted version of the original Koyaanisqatsi canon that opened the film.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It does has its ups and downs,
I agree with most people that this re-recording of Koyaanisqatsi is sometimes weaker and less energetic than the original soundtrack, though some segments do live up to the original.
Koyaanisqatsi/Organic: The saxophone solo sounds more haunting in the original, but the atmosphere in the re-recording sounds more correct for the silent desert.
Cloudscapes: In the original, the trumpets have more power. In the re-recording, the low brass have more advantage.
Resource: The new version is immensely frail compared to the original. The organ doesn't sound that creepy, and the energy of the last three minutes is feeble.
Vessels: The choir for this re-recorded segment sounds more angelic and eerie. The second half of both versions sound the same.
Pruit Igoe: The original has the advantage. It has a stronger performance and fuller emotion.
The Grid: Both are hits and misses. For the old, the choir has more vigor, and the synchronization is clearer. The loud bass is what annoys me. For the new, the choir is sometimes overpowered by the orchestral ensemble. The entire sequence does not have the same power as the old. Crisper sound, though.
Prophecies: The original edition is definitely superior to the new edition. The organ solo is more distinctive and the male voices are superb.
So all in all, I'll just stick with the DVD soundtrack and keep the CD re-recording just in case the TV breaks down or something.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable and Profound Contemporary Music,
I first heard this music watching the film, and so for me (as for many people) the music is inseparable from the film's images. After seeing the film two or three times, the music started to take a more prominent place in my mind, and today, 10 years later, it's often the music I think about most. Also, it's amazing how Glass's score has become more relevant over the past decade, as technology and money have become more primary in our culture to the exclusion of almost anything else: in painful musical irony, this music speaks beautifully about the coldness of our age -- obsessions beyond measure with meaningless things and ephemeral entertainments, continual destruction of nature, expenditure of time and energy on things that do not build us up, a world more violent than ever, and a culture that has now almost entirely closed its mind and its heart to all but its own self-interests. These are the colder thoughts that come to mind when listening to Glass's music (and not only Koyaanisqatsi, but much of Glass's other works as well). The concept of a culture that is "out of balance" (this is what the Hopi Indian title translates into) applies not only to our relationship to nature -- although that is the primary problem -- but also the way we live within cities, within neighborhoods, within our own bodies. But warmer thoughts also come to mind -- when people find their humanity, when we apply our intellectual capabilities to solving problems, we can construct glorious structures that help us reach deeper into nature. This music is one of those structures.
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