David Byrne Scores Lead Us Not Into Temptation the Soundtrack to the Film Young Adam
Out on Thrill Jockey Records September 2003
Features Members of Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian
New York, NY - David Byrne returned to his birthplace, Scotland, to compose the score Lead Us Not Into Temptation – the soundtrack for Young Adam – a new film directed by David MacKenzie. Byrne had been approached to score the soundtrack for Young Adam by his friends Hercules and Jeremy at the Recorded Picture Company, also producers of Bernardo Bertolucci's film The Last Emperor. Byrne co-wrote the score for The Last Emperor with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Cong Su, and ultimately won the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Award (1987) for Best Original Score. Young Adam is an adaptation of the 1954 novel by the Scottish beat writer Alexander Trocchi, starring Ewan McGregor, Peter Mullan and Tilda Swinton The film, an entirely Scottish production, is set against a very grim and repressed post-war Scotland
"They said it was an adaptation of a book written by a Scottish beat writer. The Alexander Trocchi book smelled like a sleazier version of Camus’ The Stranger, set in a colder climate. Trocchi, it turned out, was a legendary character who sowed addiction and destruction wherever he went- from Glasgow to LA. I suspect he could be the subject of another movie." – D. Byrne
In order to capture that mood, both MacKenzie and Byrne agreed that working with a group of Glaswegian musicians would be ideal. Byrne put together an ensemble of contemporary musicians from critically acclaimed Scottish bands that include Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian, The Delgados and Appendix Out. The musicians recorded Byrne’s compositions at a studio in Glasgow.
"I’d write some stuff in NY using samplers and such, mainly to have a framework to work from- and then the musicians and I built on those ideas. It went great - the musicians captured the right combinations of dark moods, sadness and sex." – D. Byrne
David Byrne is well known for his ground breaking and adventurous solo albums, for the genre smashing music of the Talking Heads albums and as well for his eclectic and adventurous label Luaka Bop. Founded in ‘88, Luaka Bop has evolved from a label specializing in "world music" compilations to one with emerging acts such as Cornershop, Geggy Tah, Susana Baca, Zap Mama and a host of Alternalatino bands such as Bloque, Los Amigos Invisibles and King Chango. He has toured throughout the world and worked with a vast number of directors, choreographers and musicians including Brian Eno, Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, the Wim Vandekeybus and Jonathan Demme. He is additionally well known as a photographer, having shown in museums worldwide and having published several books. His most recent solo exhibit was at his New York gallery Pace/MacGill Gallery in March-April 2003. It therefore comes as no surprise that Byrne approached his composition and ensemble direction in an unconventional and pioneering manner. Being a visual artist he is particularly attuned to the texture and tone of visual images. He created compositional guidelines allowing the ensemble the space and freedom to exercise their creative energy and interpretations of scenes.
"I instructed (the musicians) in a kind of John Cagian indeterminacy - a -you-pick-your-note system. I handed out bits of paper for specific scenes and said ‘here are the notes you can play on this scene- you can play them whenever you want, and in whenever order you want.’ In some cases there were two or more sets of notes that would be chosen in certain sections- but for some cues there would be only a set of notes for the cellist and the accordion player to choose from. It sounded wonderful - drone-y but constantly changing and subtly surprising." – D. Byrne
The resulting Lead Us Not Into Temptation is a musical document that need not be tied to the film. The graceful details and elegant forms stand alone. The moods are so well articulated and movements so clear that it is an engulfing listen.
"As is often the case, much of this music is not actually heard in the film- so this record represents another film, one with even less dialogue and a lot more music." – D. Byrne
Currently David Byrne is back in the studio working on his next solo album and coordinating a Talking Heads box set.
Lead Us Not Into Temptation will be released this September on Thrill Jockey Records.