First Listen: Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch, 'The Mystery Of Heaven'

Nov 6, 2012
Originally published on November 17, 2012 9:52 am

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Film director and screenwriter Jim Jarmusch makes music an integral part of his films: He often casts musicians in key roles and frequently incorporates music into his plots. Think about his film Down by Law, with saxophonist John Lurie and singer Tom Waits, or Stranger Than Paradise, in which "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins is a key character.

Jarmusch is a musician himself. In the '80s, he was playing with Robin Crutchfield in something called the Dark Day Project. He's played electronics in The Del-Byzanteens, and more recently put out a record under the name Sqürl. Jarmusch can often be found creating dense, languid guitar textures, and this recording with Jozef Van Wissem is a fine example. Van Wissem plays the lute with his heart equally in the 17th and 21st century. His love for the baroque seems equal to his love for cut-and-paste techniques and finding adventure in the antique.

Together, the two musicians have made an ambient record called The Mystery of Heaven, which works both as background and foreground music — and that's a compliment. The album is gritty but not in-your-face; it's pretty, but there's nothing delicate about it. It's a rich, appropriately cinematic sound.

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