INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Uncut JUNE 2004 - by Chris Roberts
MICHAEL NYMAN REMASTERED
The mighty Michael Nyman's sixtieth birthday has been marked by six remastered re-releases. One, Decay Music, was produced by Brian Eno in 1976 and has never been available on CD before. Eno's written sleeve-notes. lt was one of the first significant contributions to 'minimalism', a word which Nyman, writing in The Spectator in the late '60s, was the first to apply to music. After mastering this means of expression, Nyman decided: "I don't believe that the best film scores are the ones you don't notice. I refuse to provide just background. I prefer bold statements to musical wallpaper."
And so, collaborating chiefly with Peter Greenaway, a friend since his teens, Nyman went on to become the soundtrack composer non pareil. His music doesn't slide easily onto the floor or merely underscore the actions on screen. Often it openly and aggressively overdoes things; sometimes it actually pulls against the director's intended emotional tug, creating an ironic reaction which somehow amplifies the film's feel. He doesn't tell you what to experience; he acknowledges that you have senses of your own, and that they have their own demands.
His approach has proven richly rewarding. Here in all their melancholy wonderment again are: The Piano, A Zed And Two Noughts, The Draughtsman's Contract, Drowning By Numbers and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. The first of these, for Jane Campion in '93, sold a million. The most successful on any other level is Drowning By Numbers, which mutates Mozart to make something so beautiful and sad that, by comparison, Philip Glass is Peter Andre. Nyman's music is Bravura In The Face Of Grief as one title puts it. For him, dancing about architecture is a daily pleasure.