Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Most Beautiful Soundtracks Of François De Roubaix

 So, I recently picked up volumes 1 and 2 of Les Plus Belles Musiques De Films De François De Roubaix.  These are part of what I am pretty sure is a three volume series, designed as a kind of "best of" collection, putting together some of François De Roubaix's most famous film soundtracks.
For the most part, there is only one track from each soundtrack, though it appears that he has used some of the same music for multiple films.  Those specific tracks still differ from each other, and they are placed strategically throughout their respective volume, so it gives the sense of an actual album instead of just a collection of songs, which I feel pretty good about.
The nicest thing about these collections, is that while they can still be a little pricey depending on where you find them (volume 3 was still a little too pricey for me when I last looked), this collection is still way way less expensive than trying to find some of the records that were released specifically for each movie, and some of them don't even exist, according to my own research (which I would love to have proven wrong, if anyone could help me out).  Either way, I have been looking for an affordable vinyl copy of Le Samouraï for years, and while I may never find that, even having one selection from that film on wax is exciting to me.
Some of his music reminds me a little of pre-YMO Ryuichi Sakamoto, and I wouldn't call it too much of a stretch to say that the latter was probably influenced by the former, though that is just speculation on my part.  Unlike Sakamoto, however, Roubaix was a self tought musician, studying and learning jazz at around fifteen years of age.  His father was a filmmaker as well, and François got his start by getting to score his his educational films before moving on to work for directors like Robert Enrico and Jean-Pierre Melville; completing over fifty film scores before his fatal diving accident in 1975 (his final score, Le Vieux Fusil, was released posthumasly in 1976 and received a French César award in that same year). 
Though as above, I haven't found any evidence to support this theory, I would also wager that Roubaix was heavily influenced by Claude Debussy, who not only influenced entire generations of jazz musicians, but was also a heavy influence on other composers who worked for film, such as Phillip Glass, Toru Takemitsu (who had to have been an influence on a young Roubaix), and even the above mentioned Ryuichi Sakamoto.
François' style is comprised of a myriad of sounds; at once rooted firmly in both folk and jazz instrumentation, he is often wont to include electronic instruments like more modern synthesizers of the time, and even early drum machines, and could even be categorized as musique concrète (which was invented by French composer, Pierre Schaeffer, and based on principles developed simultaneously by both Schaeffer and Takemitsu; which supports my above theory just a tiny bit).

I find it hard to differentiate between his later influence and those he influenced, as many of his contemporaries continued making music long after Roubaix's early death, but either way, his style can still be heard throughout much of the later krautrock and post-rock scenes in both Europe and America.  I have heard similar sounds in modern groups like Stereolab, Nobukazu Takemura, and much of the Chicago post-rock/jazz scene, though his is obviously not the sole influence within those groups.
Those not interested in spending too much can still find some great reproductions of his work through a series of CDs on France's Emarcy Import label.  In fact, my first introduction to the film Les Aventuriers (now one of my favorite movies, and probably the subject of a future post) was by buying the Le Samouraï /Les Avenureirs CD on Emarcy.  Either way, I wholeheartedly recommend anything you can get your hands on, especially if you are familiar with any of the other musicians i mentioned but are still new to François de Roubaix.

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