With Naqoyqatsi, Godfrey Reggio's "Qatsi" trilogy is finally completed. As each of the films was imbued with a distinct visual language, the music in like manner follows a development characteristic and distinctive to each film.
The score for Koyaanisqatsi (1982) grew out of the instrumental style typical of the ensemble of keyboards, winds, and voice for whom I had been composing for some years. The movement of the film from the organic images of the American Southwest to the hi-tech accelerated life of modern North American cities was reflected in my version of a modern synthesized music.
With Powaqqatsi (1987), we see the indigenous communities of the Southern Hemisphere impacted by rapid transformation through its encounters with the Northern industrialized world. Accordingly, one hears echoes of India, Africa, and South America in this 'world music' score. The use of percussion instruments from around the world further enhance this impression.
In Naqoyqatsi (2002), Reggio turns to a visual language heavily dependent on digital, synthesized images. With this film, the "civilized violence" in the narrative of the film goes beyond anything seen in the two preceding films. In this case, I chose a contrasting language for the music, composing music for a large (acoustic) symphonic ensemble featuring a solo cello throughout. My instinct was to balance the quite startling effect of the synthetically composed images with a sound world of "natural" timbres. Furthermore, the solo cello -- played superbly by YO-YO MA -- quickly emerges as the "voice" of the music, lending the score an overall human dimension.
The score was composed in 8 large sections, which made the present adaptation to CD a fairly straightforward affair, the music faithfully following the structure of the film. Of course, no multimedia experience, as presented in Reggio's Qatsi Trilogy, can be represented completely in one medium alone. However, I feel quite pleased that, through a process of editing and re-mixing, this soundtrack version conveys as faithfully as possible the sense of the film.
Stephen Holden, New York Times
"Beautiful and Prophetic! Composer Phillip Glass' score is perfectly synchronized to the rush of visuals."
Jon Burlingame, Los Angeles Times
"Striking! A provocative fusion of image and music. Phillip Glass' patented minimalist style is surprisingly
effective. Composer Yo-Yo Ma lends a refreshing human element."
Elizabeth Armstrong, Wired Magazine
"Prepare for Kaleidoscopic Beauty."
Marshall Fine, The Journal News
"The Most Intriguing Movie Experience of the Year."
Ain't It Cool News
"A MUST-SEE FILM. Startling and Unforgettable."
Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine
"An eerie look at an increasingly dehumanized modern world, both lovely and terrifying."
Maitland McDonagh, Time Out New York
David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor
"The shimmering beauty of Reggio's images and the pulsing allure of Philip Glass's music suggest an optimistic prognosis for our uncertain future. Sheer cinematic poetry that will lift you right out of your seat."