FACTOTUM
Music composed by Kristin Asbjørnsen

Label: Milan Records
Catalog: M2-36157
Year: 2006
Tracks:

1. On the Bus
2. Reunion
3. I Wish to Weep
4. Farewell I
5. Slow Day - Dadafon
6. Ice Planet Overture
7. Pickles - Kristin Asbjørnsen, Jostein Asnes
8. Still Awake
9. Quirky Waltz
10. Dreamland II - Kristin Asbjørnsen, Øyvind Brantsegg, Tom Dahl
11. Slow Day Fragments
12. My Garden
13. In the Kitchen
14. Beside You
15. Drunk Driving
16. Remembering
17. Shoes
18. If You're Going to Try
19. Horse Race Groove
20. Farewell II
21. Slow Day II - Dadafon

Total Time: 50:48
Rating:

Reviewed by
Jorge Saldanha


Everyone who knows me is familiar about my simpathy for jazz and other contemporary musical styles applied to film scores. Yes, for me the orchestral film music that was born at the Golden Age is unique and never will be matched, however I firmly believe that the modern musical languages and instrumentation can, and sometimes must be carried to the film music. Among the popular music styles, jazz was one of the firsts to be used to underscore films, followed closely by blues and rock. If at the 60's and 70's the film music scenario was dominated by pop music like jazz and its relatives funk & soul, today what we usually hear on film is our usual and redundant orchestral score, or electronic music with the obligatory World Music elements.

This said is refreshing when, from times to times, new film music works come passing at large of those current clichés, providing us some genuine moments of hearing pleasure. That's the case of Factotum, an eclectic score provided by the Finnish composer, singer and instrumentist Kristin Asbjørnsen. The feature film is based on the life of American cult favorite writer Charles Bukowski and his novel of the same name. Written and directed by Brent Hamer, the film stars Matt Dillon, Marisa Tomei and Lili Taylor. Dillon plays Bukowski's fictional alter-ego, Henry Chinaski, a Los Angeles writer whose major interests are women, drinking and gambling.

In her career Asbjørnsen has a history of combining poetry with music, and several CD tracks bring for us Bukowski's own poems sung by Kristin, heard on film as source music or in the score. "I Wish to Weep", for instance, provides Victorian strings to the poetry and the result is, to say at least, elegant. Tracks like "Farewell I", "Slow Day", "My Garden" and "If You're Going to Try" manage to capture the poet's universe and interests. As I already said this is an ecletic work, and Kristyn utilizes diverse musical styles and moods for the songs and score tracks. The main score's motif is the sad melody of "Slow Day", that we first hear carrying the more intimistic colors of piano and strings in "On the Bus" and "Reunion".

"Farewell" is another sad piece with beautiful vocalizations of Kristin, while "Ice Plant Overture" and "In the Kitchen" bring back the Victorian instrumentation of "I Wish to Weep". Things start to groove with "Pickles", a bluesy track featuring electric guitars and bass. Kristin's haunting vocalizations dominate the enigmatic "Still Awake", a very adequate musical translation of the protagonist. "Dreamland II", with its footsteps rhythm, electronic sound effects and Kristin voices sounds definitively new age, in contrast to "Drunk Driving", that uses blues, jazz and the motif of "Slow Day".

If you wish you can dance at the sound of "Remembering", but its the blend of rhythm, strings, guitars and percussion of "Horse Race Groove" that will make you do some moves. Sadly it's too short... the album concludes with "Slow Days II" and I finally realized how deeply melancholic and sensual are Asbjørnsen's voice and music, a combination that I have no doubts about to be very attractive and sucessfull on film.

The score is performed by the composer and her band Dadafon, and I have no reservations to recommend this original jazz-pop hybrid score that showcases not only Asbjørnsen's breath-taking vocals, but her undeniable talent as musician. At last, just for the record: this review was written when this soundtrack still was set to be released, and it was based on an advanced promotional CD of Factotum that carries a different cover art from the regular Milan album.

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