1. In Search of Unicorns (4:06)
2. The House (2:40)
3. Dogs, Ponies and Old Ruins (2:15)
4. Visitations (2:53)
5. Reflections (3:16)
6. The Killing of Marcel (3:13)
7. The Love Montage (4:48)
8. Blood Moon (3:17)
9. Land of the Ums (1:47)
10. The Night Witch Ride (2:55)
11. The Waterfall and The Final Chapter (4:19)
Records, in collaboration with Handmade Films, is proud to present a
remastered CD reissue of an early masterpiece from legendary composer
John Williams (The Towering Inferno, The Cowboys, Jaws, E.T., The
River) for Robert Altman’s 1972 psychological thriller-drama
starring Susannah York.
The film inspired one of Williams’ most fascinating and
avant-garde scores. The composer based his ideas on two different
musical styles: one more classical, almost childlike, the other
experimental, aggressive, with an essential contribution from famous
Japanese percussionist and experimental musician Stomu Yamash’ta.
This musical duality allows Williams to reflect how sanity gradually
and irretrievably loses ground to madness in York’s character.
The composer was Oscar-nominated in 1972 for both Images and The
Poseidon Adventure; this was the first time he received a double
nomination in the same category of Original Score, something that
became usual in the following four decades.
This new 2021 edition, the first official release of Images approved by
the composer, has been expertly produced, restored and mastered by Mike
Matessino utilizing a recently discovered stereo element, the only
available source that could be located. The CD comes with a 20-page
booklet featuring an authoritative and exclusive in-depth essay by Jon
Burlingame, never-seen-before photos of the C.T.S. recording session
with Williams, Yamash’ta and Altman, as well as the recently
discovered liner notes written by Williams for an album (carefully
assembled by the composer himself) that was ultimately released only as
promotional edition for members of the Academy.
‘John Williams on Images’ (1975)
June 4, 1975
John Williams on Images – Irwin Bazelon (published on the book Knowing the Score) – 1975
Excerpt from original interview by Irwin Bazelon
Transcript by Ricard L. Befan (Courtesy jwfan.net)
The credits on the screen say
music by John Williams and sound by Stomu Yamashta. I don’t know
whether he improvised these sounds or whether he composed them, but you
get the feeling that there were two composers involved in this score.
Who wrote what?
Well, there’s a long
and interesting history to this music. It was a Robert Altman film
-script by him. Altman had been talking to me about this script for
years. It was one of those rare things where he said, “Write a
piece of music first, and I’ll film the score.” That
didn’t happen. I didn’t have time to write the music, and
he went off on another picture, and the whole thing matured a couple of
years later. But I’d been thinking about it and thinking about
the schizophrenic quality of this film and this character. Here was a
girl who one moment was in touch with reality and the next moment went
out of touch altogether. And it seemed to me that the music should be
done in two parts and it should have a duality for those reasons.
So two or three years went
by, and I went to see another of Altman’s films in London last
February. And when I looked at the film I instantly remembered the
sculptures of Baschet. He had his sculptures here at UCLA about six
years ago, and he had his associates and his family with him, and they
performed on the sculptures. He played things like Viennese waltzes and
“Flight of the Bumblebee” -it wasn’t very interesting
musically, but the noises these instruments made.
Were they metallic?
Well, most of his sculptures
(Baschet is a serious sculptor, not a musician) are made to look at,
they’re made to see. And the noises they make are kind of adjunct
to them. They’re stainless-steel surfaces sculpted like floral
petals. Some of them are sixteen feet high; they’re prominent
visual works, and he has attachments of sawed-off glass rods that
vibrate, and the vibrations go through a wire and activate these planes
of steel, making the most unearthly sounds, wonderful noises. Dissolve.
Two or three years later at
the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I walked in one day and there was
the whole ground floor covered with Baschet, and if one put a dime in
the little machine, he could pick up a headset and hear these noises
created by Baschet. I forgot all about this, but when I saw in
Altman’s film exactly this thing, I thought now is my chance to
put the music and his sculpture into a musical thing like a score.
So I called André
Previn and asked him about Baschet -he said, “Oh yes. Yamashta
(the Japanese percussionist) plays them.” And I knew Yamashta
because he’d done a film for Ken Russell, “The
Devils”, and he’s a very great percussionist -American
trained. So I rang up Yamashta, who lives in Paris, and he said,
“Come over; we’ll talk.” So I went to Paris and asked
him if he’d like to perform the percussion in this score. And he
said yes, he would. And he showed me his percussions, his Japanese
bells, etc., and there’s kind of this zanylike quality in this
film anyway, and the whole thing began to take shape. For the other
side of it, I knew I wanted to do a kind of pastoral, bucolic
-something or other with lutes and strings.
There’s also a piano background in the opening. Are you playing that?
That’s right. Yes, I
played all the keyboard, and Yamashta played all the percussion. He
agreed to play, and we went to Baschet’s studio; Yamashta was
tremendously skilled even on conventional instruments, but he gave the
most wonderful demonstration on these Baschet things, and I thought,
“Aha, that’s terrific.”
So I picked out two large
instruments and one or two smaller ones to rent from Baschet, and that
was the end of it. We shook hands, and Stomu showed up the session, so
to speak, as a playing musician, and he brought his gear with him.
When I was in Paris, I made
little notes for myself about the instruments: what they would do; what
we would call them; a little, simple method of graph notation to time
out these percussion effects with either the conventional music of the
film action it was to correspond with.
Where the credit business
comes in -I was so pleased to have Stomu; he’s such a well known
percussionist. I wanted to give him credit, to say, “Percussion
played by Stomu Yamashta,” and he said, “I’m trying
to get away from the percussion; I want to expand my activities;
I’d rather it be ‘Sounds produced by…’ ”
So I think, perhaps, it was a kind of contractual agreement with him.
He wanted that screen credit, and I wanted to give it to him -in the
same way as if you wrote a violin concerto for somebody in a film, you
would say, “Violin by so-and-so.” I felt in this case, in a
sense, that I was writing a percussion concerto with strings. So as
Stomu’s request, the idea of “sounds” was put on the
film, and when you’re doing things people don’t usually
think all that much about, who’s going to take notice? It just
seemed natural; that’s what he wanted; we agreed. Stomu
functioned as a percussionist; if it would be a concerto for
percussion, this is how it would be described and perhaps should have
But there were other percussion instruments. I heard chimes, wind chimes, bells, also blowing air through the flute.
That’s right. It
wasn’t all on the Baschets. We had the Inca flute and Kabuki
percussion instruments. Then there were the Baschets -principally the
four larger pieces of sculpture and a few smaller pieces- plus all the
conventional gear, which included timpani, hand drums, blocks, bells,
marimbas -all these things, as well as a few tricks of his own- little
shaking things, little sticklike Kabuki noises.
But he did not improvise anything to the visuals?
There are a few sections that
are improvised within the context of a prepared timing -almost if one
would do an aleatory bit of music. I might hit a chord with the
orchestra and the score might indicate dashes for ten seconds on such
and such an instrument -crescendo into double forte- that sort of thing.
I never thought it was improvised. I always thought it was very well organized.
Now, the way it was
accomplished is of interest. I wanted to use all textures and strings
and nothing else -the only thing added would be Stomu’s voice. He
does it in his concerts of some of Henze’s pieces. So it was the
Japanese style of the percussion, the resonance of the instruments, and
his chest -he might even say “ouch” in Japanese.
What I have on the score is
just an aural noise, so his voice is a contribution. So there is, in
fact, an immense creative contribution, because his performance is
outstanding, I think, and deserving of every credit he has. I
don’t want to detract from Stomu’s participation, but I
felt very strongly that we have the discipline of the written symbol,
timed to the film in its dramatic application, and that, I think, is
what gives it its unique sense, rather than haphazardness, of taut
So I reckoned percussion,
keyboards -which I wanted to play all myself- and string orchestra. We
began by recording -I wrote the score in the normal way- the string
orchestra here, the keyboards here, and the percussion here. And the
keyboards -I might play a particular section piano or piano twice,
banging here, improvising something here, or playing something written
here. The keyboard might be on three lines, which would require -since
I was going to play it all- three overdubs on the piano; the percussion
is almost always four or five lines.
You would hear Japanese
woodblocks, you would hear Baschet-sculpture percussion, you might hear
timpani, etc., in one sequence. My idea was to make the most personal,
idiosyncratic thing, have one man play everything, rather than have
four percussionists, which I could have done -let Stomu play everything.
So the first thing I did was
recording the string orchestra for a whole day -all the traditional
music, all of this material, and to time it exactly when the legitimate
orchestra stopped and Stomu and I started with either our written notes
or whatever we were going to do. And then we would select one, i.e.,
the woodblocks and the piano first. It was done on sixteen-track tapes,
so we put the string orchestra left, center, and right; that left me
thirteen tracks of tape to play around with. And we proceeded in that
way. Stomu would take line one and play that, then line two, putting on
the earphones to hear what he just recording on line one. Then on line
three he heard lines one and two back. And I drew on the score -where,
if you play pa pa, I play ta tee; I’m taking my notes from your
cue. In this case he would just follow the arrows, which are indicated
on the percussion production notes. And he followed himself with his
own timings and made a wonderful effect.
Also, the instruments have tremendous presence, as though they’re amplified and reverbed and echoed all over the place.
Yes, some of these Baschet
instruments -I wish you could see them- instantly make wonderful
noises. A lot of these noises Stomu pointed out of me; if you out your
ear on the right place of the plane, the buildup would be most
beautiful or the sonority would be the most attractive.
© 1975 by Irwin Bazelon
(Thanks to jwfan.net!)