Adam Green - Musik for a Play [12-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Adam Green

Musik for a Play [12-inch] (2010)


Musik for a Play isn't a suggestive title intended to prepare the listener for an experience rock critics might call theatrical as euphemism for grandiose--no, the title is meant to be taken quite literally. This is a collection of music composed by singer/songwriter Adam Green for a theatrical adaptation of Paul Auster's novel Timbuktu. If you are expecting Green's ruckus anti-folk from his time with the Moldy Peaches or the arm's-length arrogance of his earlier solo work, you are likely to be disappointed. These 12 instrumentals creek and careen along like a soundtrack to some sort of vaudeville burlesque show. A lot of musical scores are simply designed as background music that could go on forever or end after three seconds and no one would notice, but that isn't Green's approach to things at all. Each song is a short burst, with only two of the songs breaking the two-minute mark. The nomenclature of the song titles, like the album, remains blunt and to the point. I've never been privy to one but I think I can say with a certain amount of confidence that you couldn't find a more appropriate musical backdrop for a sea shanty than "Sailor Shirts," while "Ellington" indulges in some obvious cribbing from the Duke himself.

Apparently, the play/novel deals with a dog and his dying, homeless owner's last journey. I, however, don't think I'd like this to be the soundtrack to my final moments. While there is nothing technically bad about these songs, there just isn't any staying power to them. Perhaps coupled with the vibrant sights and other sounds of a theatre and its audience, these instrumentals would serve to punctuate the on-stage action in a very appropriate way. Yet, when you are simply sitting at home at your computer or stereo the songs are too short to develop a consistent groove, but not interesting enough to warrant the full command of your attention for those short periods of time. The addition of the three demo versions of "Big Lips," "Sailor Shirts" and "Gallop" seems like overkill as they weren't that interesting the first time around, I don't think we need to see them without their makeup.

The failure of Musik for a Play likely rests on its mode of delivery: This music simply wasn't meant for standalone consumption. It is the type of release that should only appeal to die-hard Auster fans, Green completists or hobo dog enthusiasts. Actually, you can scratch that last contingent off your list as I fall into that category and didn't seem to like the album very much. Do yourselves a favour, though, and pick up Green's latest solo LP, Minor Love, as it is probably his most mature work to date. While you are at it, if this version of Timbuktu is playing near you, go check it out; maybe it will expose depths to this album.