Sunday, February 21, 2016

Oldboy OST (2003) - Jo Yeong-wook

Review #14

Artiste:  Jo Yeong-wook
Year:  2003
Genre:  Soundtrack
Duration:  57min
Label:  Milan Records
Format:  CD

  1. ‘Look Who’s Talking’ – 1:38
  2. ‘Somewhere in the Night’ – 1:27
  3. ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ – 2:33
  4. ‘Jailhouse Rock’ – 1:55
  5. ‘In a Lonely Place’ – 3:28
  6. ‘It’s Alive!’ – 2:35
  7. ‘The Searchers’ – 3:28
  8. ‘Look Back in Anger’ – 2:09
  9. ‘Room at the Top’ – 1:34
  10. ‘Cries and Whispers’ 3:30
  11. ‘Out of Sight’ – 0:59
  12. ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ – 2:44
  13. ‘Out of the Past’ – 1:28
  14. ‘Breathless’ – 4:20
  15. ‘The Old Boy’ – 3:43
  16. ‘Dressed to Kill’ – 1:59
  17. ‘Frantic’ – 3:27
  18. ‘Cul-De-Sac’ – 1:31
  19. ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ – 3:55
  20. ‘Point Blank’ – 0:27
  21. ‘Farewell, My Lovely’ – 2:45
  22. ‘The Big Sleep’ – 1:31
  23. ‘The Last Waltz’ – 3:21

 *If you noticed, most of the track names are movie titles, or a play on a movie title.

Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy (2003) is one of the most popular and iconic of Korean films of the 2000s.  A sensational and provocative piece of Asian extreme cinema, the film also has a superb score by Jo Yeong-wook, a regular composer for a number of Park’s works. 

Jo’s original score is rather eclectic in style – a mix of classical waltzes and modern electronica if I may reduce it to that.  Several tracks such as ‘Out of the Past’, ‘Dressed to Kill’, and ‘Frantic’ are inspired by the minimalist music of Philip Glass. 

There’s an unsettling quality to the music, particularly when it is haunted by the listener’s memory of the picture.  Those who haven’t seen the film are likely to appreciate most of the tracks on offer here – the album is highly listenable and any fan of movie scores will dig this. 

Several tracks have short spoken lines from the film at the start, but while they can be distracting to those who desire a less intrusive sonic experience, it largely works well for the album. 

‘In a Lonely Place’ – A mournful solo trumpet performs the melody, accompanied by a synth drum beat and synth strings.  This feels like a modern interpretation of Ennio Morricone’s use of the trumpet in some of his cues for Westerns like A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and For a Few Dollars More (1965).  The track suggests a long, melancholic journey one must partake in order to find the truth.

‘The Searchers’ – A waltzy piece with a powerful solo violin carrying the bulk of the track.  A companion piece and thematic prelude to ‘Cries and Whispers’. 

‘Cries and Whispers’ – The main waltz for the film.  Captures the essence of the movie with an elegant melody played by strings that is circular in nature, reflecting Oldboy’s what-goes-around-comes-around revenge theme.  The track also evokes feelings of regret, guilt and torment, yet it is also a very beautiful piece, much like Park’s film.  The waltz is also repeated in ‘Breathless’ with a piano and violin duet, and in ‘Farewell, My Lovely’.

‘The Last Waltz’ – The waltz for the last scene of the film.  It is a reimagining of ‘The Searchers’ and ‘Cries and Whispers’ with a new, if somewhat stylistically similar, melody that captures the picture’s bittersweet closure in all of its irony and pain. 

Reviewed on Luxman Stereo Integrated Amplifier A-383, Marantz Compact Disc Player CD-63SE, and a pair of 1973 New Advent Loudspeakers.

Sound Quality:
Good recording


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