Thursday, January 27, 2005


More Simon Fisher Turner

Simon Fisher Turner's discography is a real bitch to get a handle on. Two good resources are this page run by a fan and this Mute Records related spot. And here's one of the best brief bios I've seen. As a warning, you really have to take his CDs one by one: liking one doesn't mean you'll like another, though some can be grouped. For example, he has a couple of "world sound" collections, Shwarma and Swift (the latter a CD/DVD package) that kind of go together. Both of those are interesting (that word again) but so diverse that they don't necessarily make for the best sit-down listening. On a separate note, I hereby advise you to stay away from his Kendall Turner Overdrive album unless you really know what you're doing.

About six years ago, he did the music for Croupier, a movie that I saw twice and liked. But I can't remember much about the soundtrack, and I've read that SFT didn't think he did a good job either. He teamed up with Croupier's director Mike Hodges for a second go with the more recent I'll Sleep When I'm Dead.

This soundtrack is available only as a download, from this place. It's very different from the Nadja soundtrack that I posted bits of the other day. Nadja is really accessible and pretty instantly likeable, to my ears. At least part of this is because it's based on a sort of minimalist chamber music most people are familiar with.

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead has SFT's trademarked electronic-messing-with-sounds, but the source material is jazz, prepared piano, and a gospel vocalist (not always at the same time). Parts of it are incredibly neat, but it doesn't exactly flow the way Nadja/Deux Filles do. Don't get me wrong: I like it. I like it a lot. But I would like to see him take some of the individual ideas and expand on them, rather than jumping around quite so much. In the end, this one sounds like a soundtrack, rather than standing completely on its own feet. Also, it seems to sound much better on headphones, as he's doing some weird stuff with stereo placement and phasing that isn't always apparent if you're not sitting right between the speakers of your stereo.

I have mixed feelings about posting a track, given that this album can be downloaded for about $13 with ease, so I've converted the mp3 to a lower bit-rate (128). That seems like a reasonable compromise, I hope. So, Here's the first of four sections that you get when you download I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. Other sections include bits that sound like John Cage and other bits that sound like Bitches Brew and other bits that sound like a jazz band getting pulled through a time vortex, and so on...

[Note: I've used "SFT" as an abbreviation at times, but Simon Fisher Turner sometimes records as "SFT" and seems to differentiate that from recordings under his name, so don't get confused.]

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