Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jon Brion & Sarah Jaffe "Blue Umbrella Suite"

After taking the kids to see "Despicable Me 2" last week, we sought the refuge of an air conditioned movie theater yet again this week, this time catching "Monsters University" (that is, "Monsters, Inc 2").

The music in the animated Pixar feature is outstanding as always, and I was a bit surprised to see in the end credits that it was Randy Newman who scored the movie.  Newman has always done great work for Pixar, but this score had a really different feel from his previous work.  Good stuff.

But the bigger musical surprise came before the movie.

Pixar always includes an animated short, before the feature (old school!).  And it is generally unrelated to the feature.  Often it is stylistically different than the feature.  But this clip had some serious wow to it.

Check out a scene below, and note that this is animation.  But it's done in this photo-realistic style, where umbrellas and buildings come to life in a way that more recalls Jim Henson than "Toy Story."

See the clip on Youtube.

The short clip doesn't give to much away, which is good, but it also doesn't quite reveal how stunning the piece looked.

But the thing that really sold it, was the music behind it.

While seeing it in the theatre, I couldn't quite place the tuneful, hummable touch of the composer, or place the familiar sounding vocalization, that was wordless yet expressive.

At home, my wife did the Googling.

The music was composed by Jon Brion, who has done some excellent scores for PT Anderson films like "Magnolia" and "Boogie Nights" as well as scores for "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" and "I Heart Huckabees."

He's also produced some excellent records for the likes of Aimee Mann, Rhett Miller, Fiona Apple and Evan Dando.

He's even been part of some good bands, like Jellyfish and The Grays.

Meanwhile, the vocals were provided by Sarah Jaffe.  Apparently the animator who envisioned the story is a Jaffe fan, and listened to her music while initially creating the short.

Great stuff.

Hear the full song on Youtube.

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