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In theaters July 7, A Scanner Darkly is Richard Linklater's adaptation of the Philip K. Dick classic novel. Graham Reynolds composed the original music, which he performed with a cast of Austin-based musicians including his group Golden Arm Trio. The soundtrack recording, on Lakeshore Records, features the score plus two re-mixes, by DJ Spooky and Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto)
A Scanner Darkly tells the darkly comedic, but deeply tragic tale of drug use in the modern world. The film plays like a graphic novel come to life to create a haunting version of America, seven years from now. America's endless and futile war on drugs has become one and the same with its war on terror. Reluctant undercover agent Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) follows orders to spy on his friends, Jim Barris (Robert Downey Jr.), Ernie Luckman (Woody Harrelson), Donna Hawthorne (Winona Ryder), and Charles Freck (Rory Cochrane). When he is directed to step up the surveillance on himself, he is launched on a paranoid journey into the absurd, where identities and loyalties are impossible to decode.
To interpret this story Richard Linklater used a unique technique. He took live-action photography and overlaid it with an advanced animation process known as interpolated rotoscoping which he first employed in the film Waking Life.
An original visual experience needs an original score. That's where Graham Reynolds came in.
Composer Graham Reynolds is a composer, bandleader, pianist, and drummer based in Austin, TX, who works constantly in theater, dance, film, concert halls, and nightclubs. His compositions include four symphonies, two operas, a violin concerto, more than a dozen one movement string quartets and countless chamber music pieces. He also the drummer-pianist for Golden Arm Trio, described by RollingStone.com as a group which "freely charges into other realms as a composer-performer: string quartets, symphonies, soundtracks, improvised super-rock..., crossbreeding classical futurism and punk esprit."
Austin-based director Richard Linklater approached Reynolds three years ago at a club gig and asked him to compose the music for A Scanner Darkly. For over a year and a half, Reynolds composed the score, gathering musicians from the lineup of his band Golden Arm Trio and began rehearsals before committing the score to tape and mixing in his bedroom of his east Austin home.
Both with the time allotted to compose for the project his methods used to write and record the music, Reynolds' approach was very different than that of other film composers. "Since the film was being animated, we had a year to work after the final cut was locked," said Reynolds.
He began with an all-acoustic, somewhat jazz-noir sound, and kept exploring different approaches, ending up with music that was halfway between an acoustic and an electronic score. Reynolds described, "all the sounds originally came from acoustic instruments, but for much of the film, they are processed, mangled, and otherwise transformed. The result is something very textured and organic, but also otherworldly, sounding drug-induced and unidentifiable. In a traditional three-week window, we never could have gotten to the place this music ended up in."
The result is a score called "eerily evocative" by Variety. Cinematical says "Graham Reynolds' score... fit subtly and perfectly with the unique look of the film."
The soundtrack CD contains the music composed for the film plus two remixes, by DJ Spooky and by Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto). Reynolds said, "I've always admired electronic musicians and remixers, it's so out of the musical realm that I normally work in it's fascinating to me and these two top my list. Their signing on was an honor and I was intensely curious to hear what they would do with my stuff. The results are fantastic.
Warner Independent Pictures presents A Scanner Darkly, in theaters on July 7, 2006. The Lakeshore Records soundtrack, featuring the score by Graham Reynolds and remixed by DJ Spooky and Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto) will be in-stores on June 27, 2006.