If you were never told that Ewan Castex studied film at university, it wouldn’t be very hard to guess. His music has consistently reached for soundscapes and motifs that approach the cinematic, rich as they are in qualities that make them distinctly separate from conventional electronic music tropes. Starting out in 2008, the intervening years have seen him release with three albums on French label InFiné, with this month’s ‘Creatures‘ the most recent.
On ‘Creatures’ he’s enlisted the help of Bryce Dessner from arena filling band The National, Montreal ambient peddlers Sea Oleena and avant-Jazz trumpeter Toshinori Kondo amongst others. The result is the most thorough exploration of his unique sound yet, a genre defying mesh of textures and sounds that often verges on the dramatic and grandiose.
It was little surprise to us that Castex’s YouTube Sessions would focus heavily on film, with the Frenchman going on to pick ten of his favourite original soundtracks. With an inspired selection he bypasses the inevitable Blade Runner OST and veers off the beaten track somewhat with the likes of Stéphane Grapelli’s transportative violin work and Neil Young’s heady guitar meanderings serving as some of our favourites.
Miles Davis – Ascenseur pour l’échafaud / Elevator to the Gallows (directed by Louis Malle)
This soundtrack was practically improvised in 3 hours by the musicians watching a screening of the film. It has become a cult record. It is inseparable from the Louis Malle film and when I hear it, I can picture Jeanne Moreau walking down the streets of Paris at night. But the real heroine of this movie is Miles Davis’ trumpet. It has accompanied a lot of my sleepless nights …
Tindersticks – Trouble every day (directed by Claire Denis)
A dark soundtrack. Gentle, contemplative and melancholic for a film that is just as much so! Claire Denis’ raw and sensual images blend perfectly with Tindersticks’ sublime music ; one just needs to watch the teaser of the film to realise it.
Stéphane Grapelli – Les Valseuses / Going Places (directed by Bertrand Blier)
Another perfect fusion of image and sound. Grappelli’s deep and ethereal violin perfectly translates Blier’s characters’ soul and wonderfully expresses their carelessness, their freedom …
Georges Delerue – Le Mépris / Contempt (directed by Jean Luc Godard)
Sublime theme from Delerue. One of his most famous scores, found later in several other films including Martin Scorsese’s Casino … But for me it remains linked to Godard’s wide shots of Brigitte Bardot’s naked body.
John Brion – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (directed by Michel Gondry)
A very touching theme for a sensitive and fragile film. The right amount of notes … a perfect dosage.
Kevin Shields – Lost in Translation (directed by Sofia Coppola)
The founder of My Bloody Valentine composed this beautiful soundtrack for Sofia Coppola. Very atmospheric music with rich textures that bring a special colour to the director’s images.
Alexandre Desplat – De battre mon coeur s’est arrêté/The Beat That My Heart Skipped (directed by Jacques Audiard)
Music full of contrast between tension and softness for a dark film. Deep and masterful!
Neil Young – Dead Man (directed by Jim Jarmusch)
The soundtrack of this film is a based on electric guitar improvisations by Neil Young. The music is instinctive, throbbing and mystic, just like the character “Nobody”, the great Indian philosopher accompanying Johnny Depp to his inevitable death.
RZA – Ghostdog (directed by Jim Jarmusch)
Another Jarmusch film, who definitely knows the right people for his films’ music. This time it’s RZA who’s in charge and delivers small hip hop nuggets, giving the film a very original tone.
Carlos d’Alessio – India Song (directed by Marguerite Duras)
I love Carlos D’Alessio’s music. It mixes various genres and takes posession of the musical codes of the 30s. From tango to waltz through to rumba, its soundtrack is subtle from beginning to end. I must have listened to this record 1,000 times but I must admit I’ve never seen the film.
‘Creatures’ is out now on InFiné. Buy it here.