John Parish’s soundtrack for
She, A Chinese is an experimental sound collage of thoughts, feelings,
and ideas ranging from pensively sweet and gentle to dissonantly challenging. A
cohesive streak of melancholia and introversion runs throughout resonating the
sound of soul-searching and of the occasional breaking free. Parish’s
compositional ideas and instrumentation are mainly pared down: a solo
compressed electric guitar (a lot of beautiful guitar playing to be found
here), a solo rubato banjo plucked in a defiantly non-traditional manner,
various percussion, field recordings of animals, etc… And stylistically, She ranges from rhythmically free and seemingly improvisatory sections, to near
electronica, to more aggressive punk rock or Sonic Youth sounding gestures.
It’s to Parish’s great credit that his music here comes off so cohesively while
covering so much ground.
She being a
soundtrack, it’s to be expected that most tracks (or “cues” in film scoring
parlance) will be rather short. Many run roughly between 1 and 2 minutes
(actually fairly long for film cues), while one comes in just over 30 seconds.
Included on the soundtrack are a handful of pre-existing tunes not written by
Parish that presumably appear in the film and are very welcome. “Wildflowers,”
a delicate Chinese pop song from the ‘90s, is described by the film’s director,
Xiaolu Guo, as follows: “Every young woman working in the city became obsessed
with that song – which was written and sung from a female point of view,
expressing the longing for love of a desolate heart. I was one of those girls…
My heart desired a kind of freedom.” The other very welcome track not by Parish
is from Feist, “Lonely Lonely,” off her 2004 Let It Die record. Every
bit as emotional, spare, and fine as Parish’s music, it fits right in and
serves as a fitting closer to this beautiful and artful soundtrack.
Standout Tracks: “Li Mei,” “Banjo X,” “Spikey’s
Death,” “Rachid,” JOHN DWORKIN