Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 novel Inherent Vice gave filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson an outlet for his more antic, erratic impulses. Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2014 film Inherent Vice, meanwhile, gives composer and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood a chance to indulge his inner Hollywood romantic. As a composer, Greenwood has mostly been called on for slashing chords, thick string textures, and foreboding. But “Shasta”, which opens the Nonesuch OST and appears early in the film, opens on a rosy blush of strings and woodwinds that calls to mind sinuous old Hollywood scores. It is by far the most conventional orchestral music to emerge from his pen.
The soundtrack, sequenced out of order from the film and featuring a few spots of dialogue, read by Joanna Newsom, is a series of blindsides, which takes the conventions of the Raymond Chandler detective story down a series of batshit rococo detours. The film aims, as did Pynchon’s book, to blur the question “Whodunit?” until it looks more like a dazed “Whuh?” The soundtrack, which crab hops from psych-rock to Minnie Riperton to Disney orchestral interludes, faithfully recreates this sensation of dislocation and head-scratching befuddlement. No matter where Doc Sportello was in Inherent Vice‘s sun-baked, taupe-and-polyester landscape, it was the wrong place, and the selections are a series of similar awkward encounters.
The second selection, after Greenwood’s plush opening, is Can‘s “Vitamin C”, a gonzo piece of insect-throated avant-rock that hits you in the face like a scalding cup of gas station coffee. It shares time with Neil Young‘s idyllic “Journey Through the Past” and the medicated lounge lizard cheer of Kyu Sakamoto’s “Sukiyaki”, all of which finds itself jostled up against bits of Greenwood’s score, which tries on some truly weird duds: The misty strings and woodwinds on “Meeting Crocker Fenway” don’t feel far from John Williams’ Harry Potter scores. The vaguely Morricone-esque “The Golden Fang” features mallet percussion and guitar arpeggios that shimmer like exhaust off a motel parking lot.
If this soundtrack were a room full of furniture, in other words, you would shield your eyes from the clash. But it might actually make for a sleeker and more condensed vehicle for the film’s stoned, clammy energy than the film itself, which sank into a narrative tar pit in its last hour and tested the patience of even PTA’s most steadfast devotees. It’s exciting to hear Greenwood stretch into new styles, and “Adrian Prussia” is incredible, a crunching meeting point between digital static and strident violins. Like the movie, the soundtrack is a pungent, incoherent, occasionally haunting trifle. The feeling is of a bunch of intelligent and talented people trying on a bunch of funny-colored clothing and giggling at each other. If you’re not wearing the costumes, there’s a limit to just how entertained by all of it you can be.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/14ns6Lm