Saturday, 7 May 2016

Sayōnara Tomita

The killing fields of 2016 claims another much loved artist… Isao Tomita, the Japanese composer died on May 5th and this morning I’ve been listening to Tomita’s 1974 album Snowflakes Are Dancing. I can’t profess to being a huge fan, Tomita’s music sounded a little too close to muzak for my tastes (it would have sounded very appropriate coming from the PA of the futuristic subterranean city in THX-1138) but nevertheless I’m very fond of the Debussy album. For a taster, check out the beautiful rendition of Clair de Lune. My copy of Snowflakes Are Dancing is an original RCA Red Seal pressing, not in the least rare or valuable but I prize it for David Hecht’s stunning artwork and the great shot of Tomita at his moog on the flipside. It’s maddening that subsequent CD issues have tampered with the artwork either by obscuring it within an ugly frame or reducing it to small quadrant to make room for a silly High Fidelity blurb. I mentioned THX-1138 a moment ago and Tomita connects with another favoutrite film of mine, Apocalypse Now. Francis Ford Coppola approached Tomita to synthesize his father Carmine’s score, but Tomita bowed out due to time constraints. Interestingly, on the Workprint version of the film, during a montage of helicopter shots that precedes the air strike on the village, the temp music sounds very much like a Tomita piece. Still, what’s heard in Apocalypse Now is a very close approximation of the Tomita sound - the cue heard as Willard reads Kurtz's letter (just before the sampan massacre) sounds remarkably like Tomita's version of Mars, The Bringer of War. I like to think that some of his DNA is in the film...

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