31 Days Of Music: “Symphonies”

Two very good things happened in prairie dog’s office this year, music-wise. The first was hiring designer Awesome Klassen, a guy who knows things about stuff. The second: I finally got fed up with the old, broken portable stereo and bought an functional CD player/radio for the office. Nothing fancy but it works.

Awesome Klassen’s a long-time listener of Internet radio so when the new stereo arrived, he set us up with a few great channels including Radio XY and Radio Paradise. The consequent deluge of tunes introduced me to some likable bands, including The XX and The Temper Trap.

But the song I’ll remember — Dan Black’s “Symphonies” — is a tune built around a sample from an old movie I’m a big fan of.

Black is a British wonky pop musician who released “Symphonies” last year. The BBC listed him on their Sound Of 2009 long list. Old news in Britain is fresh grooves in North America — the artist, the song and its album, Um, all crossed the pond this year.

“Symphonies'” vocal melody rides the theme from the 1984 John Carpenter movie Starman, about a stranded alien (Jeff Bridges) and the woman (Karen Allen) who falls in love with him. The score by composer Jack Nitzsche (An Officer And A Gentleman) contains a sweeping, melodramatic arc that suits the movie — which might be the greatest sci-fi romance of all time — to a T. Under Black’s nimble craft it’s renewed as the earnest plea of a treasure-hunting musician looking for inspiration to be plundered, polished and installed in his aural museum.

Actually when I put it that way it seems a little tawdry. Oh well. “Symphonies” is a catchy number.

The video, by the way, is spectacular homage to all kinds of genre movie art direction. There’s two versions of “Symphonies” and both have vids. I posted the original in the summer. Here’s the remix, featuring Kid Cudi.

There’s more fun on Black’s website. Click and explore, my friends. He’s got a Muhspus page, too!

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth will never, ever pass up a chance to make a Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo pun.