I am fascinated by Reggie Watts. I don’t even know if I’d describe him as a comedian, because his live shows are such an original mix of music and humor and attitude, and there’s no one else I can point to who does what he does.
One of my favorite moments in the LCD Soundsystem documentary “Shut Up And Play The Hits,” which I absolutely recommend to you, is when Reggie Watts shows up during that final Madison Square Garden performance to collaborate on a song. It’s just amazing to see how Watts can build this wall of sound that drops into what James Murphy and the band do so well, and it makes the case for Watts as far more than “just” a comedian.
Ridley Scott’s “Legend” is an absolutely gorgeous movie, but as a film, it’s wildly uneven and occasionally stone-cold silly. I still remember the afternoon I saw it the first time, and my friend and I who saw it together ended up yelling at each other because of how differently we processed it. He really bought into the world of the film and thought it was a great accomplishment regardless of the script, while I couldn’t really get past some of the things that I think hobble the film.
The first time I really tried to reassess the movie was when I got hold of the Japanese import laserdisc that featured the film recut with the original Jerry Goldsmith score in place of the Tangerine Dream score that was on the theatrical version of the movie. And while I think Goldsmith’s score helped, and recutting it helped, it still has some major dramatic issues that keep it from feeling like a complete movie to me.
As such, I think it’s a fascinating piece of art to play with, because it’s not like the film is this flawless gem. Watts must feel the same way, because he has just released a special free download on his site of a new score that he composed and recorded for the film. You’re supposed to sync it up with the start of the film and then just let the entire MP3 play, and so I put the film on and gave it a try this afternoon. It sounds like he recorded this live somewhere, and I wish I could have attended that event, because you can hear the audience reacting as certain things happen. I think I had my screening of the film pretty close to where he intended it, but I’m not 100% sure.
No matter. Even as a stand-alone piece of music, it’s intriguing and compelling, and it sounds like it is a one-man show like everything Watts does. I love watching him build one of his soundscapes onstage, singing into a device that he then uses to loop certain beat tracks or melody lines. Here, he creates something very strange and moody and spare, and while some of it almost feels like he’s acknowledging the general lunacy of the film, there’s a lot of it where he’s just providing real score, and where he makes some very strong choices.
If nothing else, this convinces me that I would hire Watts to score a movie. No doubt about it. I’d maybe ask him to scale back the talk about unicorns a little, but I love the way he narrates the film and the way he seems to only sort of pay attention to what’s actually happening. His voice is such a remarkable thing, and he’s got such a unique mind for melody and rhythm that this feels like a very fresh approach to film music. If you only want a sample, I’d tell you to fast-forward to one hour into the track, which should take you to a passage in the score that is dark and ominous and a little overwhelming.
Plus he does a pretty hilarious Tim Curry.
You can download the score directly from Reggie’s site.
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