‘Fur An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus’/Burwell

December 30, 2006


Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr. star in the arthouse film about the photographer Diane Arbus, who did quite creative and unusual work in the 50’s, photographing dwarfs, hunchbacks, and freaks. As explained in the beginning of the film and also the title, this is an imaginary world of what things could have been like for Diane, more of a dreamworld and not the true reality at all. As of this writing (December 2006) the film has not fared well at the box office, returning only $221,000 of its nearly 17 million dollar budget. Perhaps time and the DVD market will be kind to the film.

Both Kinsey & Alamo, the two previous films that Carter Burwell scored, are both in the liked category by this reviewer and this new one is no exception. Lately, something that is out of the normal realm of the Hollywood template will certainly get my attention, and this soundtrack certainly fits the bill. The 20 piece orchestra consists of piano, guitar, 2 bass, 3 percussion, harp, 3 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, french horn, tenor sax, baritone sax, trumpet, and drums. While certainly not as eclectic as Herrmann and some of his unusual combinations, it is still not designed to produce the tear filling climaxes we are use to. What it does produce is a combination of jazz, chamber, easy listening, and a yet to be determined category, a fusion of all three styles in one or more tracks. The opening track “The Fur” is a good example of this. There is a simple melody, yet the percussion, harp, chamber strings, and guitar blend together with the piano to make it quite mysterious and unique. “My Arms Around Myself” begins as a string quartet piece might then switches midway to include a trio of bass, harp, and piano with the quartet in the background a blend of old and new. The same theme is found in “SeDuction” except in a far more modern vein with electric guitar, piano, drums and bass. “Ad Ultima Thule” is a track which briefly hints at the theme again but is a small study in the use of percussion. Carter returns to the theme yet again in “The Tea Party”, piano bar style fashion with a somewhat traditional jazz quartet ensemble of electric twangy guitar, a nice solo on bass, piano and drums. This is a really cool track that could be expanded on by a jazz ensemble for a nice 15 minute song. “Stepping Out” is a straight jazz track, a scant one minute, but features the trumpet and both saxes. Burwell doesn’t use the brass and saxes much in this score at all. “The Shave” is one of the longer extended tracks which features the theme again with a long excellent piano solo with good backup from the bass and guitar. “Into The Sea” is one of those underscore tracks that is piano driven, excellent easy listening with a nice background of some chamber music thrown in. It depicts the sea as a tranquil reflective place to go to in order to sort out your thoughts.

If you enjoy listening to some jazz selections this score is going to likely be to your fancy. Bill Mays on piano, David Torn on guitar, and Emily Mitchell on harp are first rate and very easy on the ears. While there is some chamber material, some easy listening, and some underscore this is secondary to the jazz material. The Right Track Studios did a first rate job producing material that is crystal clear sounding throughout! Carter had the chores of the orchestrating, the exception rather than the rule. In addition he conducted his own material. While the score has received little or no publicity it is certainly one that should be explored by all means. Recommended.

Lakeshore LKS 338392

Track listing

1. The Fur (03:13)

2. Tango de la Bete (01:25)

3. Scary Times (01:40)

4. Arbus Family Photo Studio (01:55)

5. My Arms Around Myself (01:56)

6. Exposure (00:59)

7. Seduction (01:11)

8. Pipes (01:38)

9. Ad Ultima Thule (03:32)

10. Call of the Wild (01:08)

11. The Tea Party (02:10)

12. Following (02:00)

13. The Run Back Home (01:18)

14. Water Dream (03:15)

15. Stepping Out (01:06)

16. Stepping Out (01:21)

17. Trap Door Party (01:15)

18. Drowning (01:38)

19. End It (01:24)

20. Transmission (02:30)

21. The Shave (05:24)

22. Into the Sea (05:05)

23. I Want to Meet Your Husband (00:53)

Total Duration: 00:47:56


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