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Koyaanisqatsi Soundtrack

4.2 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Soundtrack, October 27, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Though Glass composed this breathtaking score to accompany Godfrey Reggio's beautiful time-lapse and slow-motion images, the music stands on its own as one of the composer's most intriguing works. This reissue, the movie soundtrack's first digital incarnation, includes never-before-released music.

Fifteen years after its initial release, Philip Glass's score to Godfrey Reggio's film Koyaanisqatsi is still as timeless as it was meant to be. Glass's epic score, virtually the only sound in this non-narrative movie, accompanied an exhilarating, wordless meditation of images ranging from expansive, slow-motion landscapes to whirling-dervish city scenes shot using time-lapse techniques. Glass's music was a perfect match. The opening chant is still unlike anything Glass has composed, a Tibetan monk operatic growl that set up the foreboding sense of loss the film engenders. Most of the score, however, casts Glass's minimalist themes in orchestral expanses. Bass strings troll the bottom while flutes draw circles in the air. On "The Grid," manic keyboards drive into the night, pounding out the cyclical refrains that are a Glass trademark. When Koyaanisqatsi came out, it seemed opulent with its orchestral forces, but always at the center were the keyboards, reeds, and voice that are Glass's characteristic sound. Koyaanisqatsi means "life out of balance," but Glass's remarkably austere score remains perfectly poised. This newly re-recorded edition adds nearly 30 minutes to the previous CD release with two previously unissued tracks and extended versions of "The Grid" and "Prophecies," the two signpost works of the film. --John Diliberto

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Koyaanisqatsi
  2. Organic
  3. Cloudscape
  4. Resource
  5. Vessels
  6. Pruit Igoe
  7. The Grid
  8. Prophecies

Product Details

  • Composer: Philip Glass, Philip Glass
  • Audio CD (October 27, 1998)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Soundtrack
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • ASIN: B00000AEDU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,417 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ralph Quirino on January 26, 2000
Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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