Cohesive cross-genre compilation albums?
May 13, 2020 7:59 PM   Subscribe

I've been listening to the soundtrack record from the movie Diva a lot lately. I love the movie and that's why I got the soundtrack, but I've been finding that I also like the really broad variety of music that's represented (a few opera tracks, a few very consonant modern classical tracks (think Scott Cossu), and a few electronica tracks that range from aggressive to mellow ambiance). What are other compilation albums or soundtracks/scores that have this much variety in style?

Bonus points if they're mostly instrumental or not in English, or if classical music is represented (I'm a recovering music theorist), but more important is that there is a flow or coherence to the way it's combined. I really do enjoy all genres but with classical, European folk music, or '80s-'90s underground rock I'm more likely to find it distracting if the works or tracks represented are very well-known standards; metal or hip-hop I enjoy but don't have the breadth of background to notice or care if it's all top 10 stuff. The cross-genre aspect involving some rhythmic structure variety is pretty essential, I think; even if it doesn't have any ambient noise or otherwise unmeasured tracks, at least something to mix it up from 4/4 and 3/4 would be an improvement on the average automated Spotify playlist.

I'd also be interested in playlists along these lines, if they function as a sequence (rather than designed to be randomized)? Or radio show recommendations, if there's a DJ who specializes in this type of thing (for example, I love People Like Us and still listen to her archived shows on the WFMU website).
posted by C. K. Dexter Haven to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The Truman Show or maybe The Last Emperor.
posted by Rash at 9:11 PM on May 13, 2020

Best answer: Les Disques du Crépuscule was a label from the '80s that very much qualifies. Their compilations were infamously eclectic and collided underground rock, neoclassical, minimal synthpop, tape collage/field recording, spoken word, and all manner of unclassifiable musics. Unfortunately, few to none of their records have made it to digital in their original form (licensing and rights being a highly variable thing over decades), but there are at least two:

From Brussels With Love
Some Of The Interesting Things You'll See On A Long-Distance Flight

There are also a few different Spotify playlists that take a stab at their catalogue. There's a lot of overlap, and you might have to roll your own in terms of making something that feels cohesive to you, but you'll have an interesting time getting there.

posted by mykescipark at 9:16 PM on May 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Black Swan soundtrack come to mind from your description. Also a lot of Cinematic Orchestra's albums hit this spot for me, Man With a Movie Camera is a good example and happens to actually be a soundtrack to a rerelease of an old silent movie.
posted by JZig at 10:21 PM on May 13, 2020

best soundtrack compilation ever imho, and I think it fits your requirement nicely: The Royal Tenenbaums
posted by rd45 at 1:57 AM on May 14, 2020

Best answer: I'm a fan of Trent Reznor's two 'mix tape' soundtracks:
Lost Highway (Spotify)
Natural Born Killers (Spotify)

(the spotify links may or may not be complete, due to the usual rights issues)
posted by Bron at 7:09 AM on May 14, 2020

I've made my own playlists by mixing tunes from the different genre-specific putumayo collections. That's a fun quaran-hobby, seems like.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:12 AM on May 14, 2020

Are you familiar with David Toop? A music writer and musician, his books usually had accompanying soundtracks that illustrated his theories, but which can be listened to on their own, and should be right up your alley. Here's a Spotify playlist reproducing the content of these albums, though you sound like you might enjoy his books too. To delve into his work more, here's a fansite devoted to it.
posted by carrienation at 11:30 AM on May 14, 2020

The Great Expectations soundtrack came to mind for me (spotify link)
posted by wowenthusiast at 12:16 PM on May 14, 2020

Even better than the Great Expectations Soundtrack is the Great Expectations: The Score (Amazon link, doesn't appear to be available on Spotify). Much of it is a standard movie score, though one of the best I've ever heard, with unexpected jazz elements and instrumentations mixed in. The composer is Patrick Doyle, a favorite of Kenneth Branagh's.
posted by lhauser at 7:21 PM on May 14, 2020

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