My Education, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

My Education,

Question: when was the last time you listened to a soundtrack? Better yet, when was the last time you listened to the soundtrack of a silent film? If you answered anything but “never” for the last question, then consider yourself a pathological liar not fit for civil society…sort of.

Apparently our central Texan brethren, My Education, have taken it upon themselves to compose an original soundtrack for the 1927 silent film Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. To cinema purists, alterations or additions to any iconic film is blasphemy of the highest order. But forget the purists, they’re no fun anyway. The real question is, have the Austin instrumentalists done it? Have they written something worth listening to? In short, no.

It’s all about context. Before listening to Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, I had never heard of nor seen the silent film — this was to be a pure review of the music. The thing about soundtracks is that they tend to not go anywhere, serving only heighten emotions and add to our visual experience. And, like many film scores, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans tends to not go anywhere.

Songs like “Oars” and “City Woman” surge forward with each addition of instrumentation only to fall flat in the last few seconds. While this isn’t uncommon, the lack of finality in film scores makes them that much more difficult to listen to. Further still, despite featuring a full rock ensemble and a traditional string trio, there are tracks such as “Peasant Dance” that feel thin, as if they need to add yet another instrument.

That being said, and despite having no prior knowledge of the film, My Education is still able to convey a sense of melodrama, and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans features six incredibly layered, emotional songs. There is a genuine sense of remorse, anguish, and mourning in each of the six songs, so much so that it made good sense to read the plot of the film.

So despite wanting to judge the album purely on its musical merits, it’s clear that context is needed to fully understand Sunrise. The film is a surprisingly dark tale of a man’s redemption after his mistress convinces to him to drown his wife. Knowing this, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans the album begins to have life and, as a soundtrack, serves its purpose well. However, that’s where Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans the album ultimately fails: it is something that needs to be experienced as intended, with its film. Without the 1927 classic, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans lacks any real purpose.

(Strange Attractors Audio House -- P.O. Box 86382, Portland, OR. 97206; http://www.strange-attractors.com/; My Education -- http://www.myeducationmusic.com/)

Review by . Review posted Saturday, December 11th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “My Education, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: !Yes Indeed! Fest + American Sharks + Illegal Wiretaps + Wine Fest + Touche Amore + More on July 12th, 2013 at 12:28 am

    […] film Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans — which Daniel Yuan reviewed back in 2010, right over here. The film’s from the 20s, and I’ve got zero idea what it’s about, but the […]

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