Various Artists – Music from the Comedy, A Film By Rick Alverson

November 12th, 2012
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A Romantic, Meaningful Late-Night-Drive of an Album

Tim Heidecker has an untouchable track record of irreverence. Anyone who has experienced even a single skit of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! understands that it’s not so much about being funny as it is to push past what’s expected (or acceptable). Whereas most comedy goes through an editing process, choosing the “best” bits to be developed and put forward, Heidecker’s unfiltered version has always spilled forth like the rantings of a child. Directed by Rick Alverson, The Comedy is a button-pushing existential trip, much more serious and uncomfortable than the sketch comedy of Tim and Eric. The film has Heidecker meandering through life as Swanson, a mid-thirties nowhere man taking the piss out of everything and everyone (along with his friends, including cohort Eric Wareheim and even LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy). Touted by some as the “most walked-out film of Sundance 2012,” the film has brought audiences well past their comfort zone and raises the question “What is the point?”

However, seconds into the soundtrack we are immersed in the sad warmth of this romantic, meaningful late-night-drive of an album. From the fade in of Donnie & Joe Emerson’s “Baby,” a tone is set that’s sonically rich and highly sentimental, in polar opposition to the harsh inanity of the film. This makes the case that all is not without meaning, and that within the stream of abrasive moments is a humanity easily overlooked. Adding a subtext of significance, each song reminds us that people are people, complete with their unique motivations regardless of right or wrong.

In every song the album exposes us to poetic landscapes (Gayngs’ “The Gaudy Side Of Town”), difficult journeys (Amanaz’s “Khala My Friend”) and/or the contemplation of relationships (Bill Fay’s “Garden Song”) and does so with a brooding sonic melancholia. Slow jams and introspective ballads abound, pulling you under and leaving you wistful. Standout tracks include Gardens & Villa’s “Carrizo Plain” with the lyric, “What is it to die but to crumble in the sunshine, naked in the wind? / Let the earth reclaim all that’s mine / you and I are intertwined.” Another highlight of the soundtrack is Here We Go Magic’s “Over The Ocean,” which holds its own against the best songs of Beck’s Sea Change. The middle and end of the album are signaled with excerpts from avant-garde composer William Basinski’s “Disintegration Loops,” perfectly transitional, leaving you ready for whatever comes next.

Six tracks of dialogue from the film serve to pull you back into the absurd, whether it’s Heidecker and crew being mock-affectionate with positive affirmations to each other or free styling some “taxi hip hop” to a cab driver with no radio. But these do nothing but accentuate the depth of the surrounding tracks, creating a dynamic energy that makes this album so interesting. Though the film may not be for everyone, this sultry, introspective collection of songs has a much broader appeal and stands with its own voice.

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By Matthew Stolarz Posted in Reviews , , , , , , , , , ,

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