Naim Amor – Soundtracks Volume III

January 01, 1970



You won’t find two cities more different on the surface than
Paris and Tucson.
But while listening to transplanted Frenchman Naim Amor’s instrumental music
you sense that the Sonoran desert and Le Champs Elysees may not be as far apart
as you imagined. The third in his Soundtracks series of all-instrumental songs adds a Parisian flair to Amor’s cinematic
collage of lounge jazz, country, Left Bank waltzes, and slack-key and surf
guitars, heightening the affect of watching Sergio Leone and Francois Truffaut
co-direct an intimate bedroom drama in the middle of a Spaghetti western.
Mostly, though, one suspects it’s just Amor’s Euro DNA that makes for such a
romantic spin on what is traditionally somewhat lonely and sinister musical (and
visual) territory.


There are no extant films to go along with this series, but
that almost seems beside the point anyway (we imagine Amor wouldn’t say “no” to
a Miramax paycheck, though). With imaginative instrumental music – these days
meaning the rare recordings that don’t ape Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai —
the films spool out in your head like fragmentary scenes. The distorted guitar
at the close of “Precious Second” may evoke the big sonic vistas of Friends of
Dean Martinez, but the Hawaiian lap steel and vibes preceding it provide cozy
contrast, as though you’re seeing it from an interior shot. “Keeylocko” bends
and twists like drunken cabaret run through peyote lounge music, a harmonica
melody weaving to snake-rattle percussion, stuttering banjo and baritone
guitar. Even the wistful twang-shuffle “Reminds Me of a Song” closes with an
end-credits climax of interweaving guitar lines that generates significant heat.


But Amor, who programs and plays nearly a dozen
instruments on the record, doesn’t limit his stylistic map to just familiar
environs — he brings those into other surprising territories. “Klezmer Muzak”
takes a “Love Rollercoaster”/Ohio
Players-like bass line, mixes in some spooky vibes, lap steel and clarinet, and
presto: Balkan Klezmer funk. The late-night accordion and jazz guitar of “Soul
Mambo” read like a ‘60s film score to Jean-Paul Belmondo’s conquests, while
“Tucson Nocturne” spurns any obvious desert-music tropes for a raucous film
noir feel built with saxophone, nearly free-form percussion, and surf guitar.
But maybe what’s most impressive about the Soundtracks series is how Amor takes many of the same ingredients
found in the music of his friends and Tucson
neighbors Calexico, and comes up with something entirely different and equally


Standout Tracks: “Where
the West Ends” “Reminds Me of a Song” “Klezmer Music” JOHN



Leave a Reply