Boomkat Product Review:
A total must-have for sound-oriented cinephiles! This is the first ever pressing of David Shire’s OST for ‘The Conversation’, a Francis Ford Coppola classic about a wire-tapper in 1970’s NYC, brilliantly played by Gene Hackman, and featuring sound design by the living legend Walter Murch. Trust Jonny Trunk to execute the job with typically covetable results.
Like Jonny Trunk, we distinctly remember seeing this flick for the first time in the ‘90s (probably late on a schoolnight on Channel 4 in my case) and becoming utterly sucked into the film’s innovative shots and sound design, which uniquely told the story of a wire-tapper, brusquely portrayed as a Mac-wearing and neurotic loner by Gene Hackman, who memorably unravels when, on his latest job, he uncovers a murder.
Even to our naif ‘90s ears, the by-then-vintage movie soundtrack and its subtly innovative sound design felt uncannily sparse and refreshing, especially for a major studio production, and it’s not hard to understand how it’s been referenced as a genre classic countless times since then. With hindsight, we can hear how it dovetails very neatly with the minimalist and avant-garde movements of the ‘70s, arguably in the process becoming a sterling example of the way avant-garde and mainstream ideas fluidly informed each other in that decade.
The music is mostly played on piano by David Shire, who was enlisted for his first ever soundtrack job by his brother-in-law, Francis Ford Coppola. The main theme is a sort of slow ragtime jazz piece which filters thru the whole soundtrack, returning in increasingly tense and prangingly dissonant avant-garde situations that mirror the narrative’s flow of intrigue and tension. It’s not until the 5th track, ‘To The Office/The Elevator’ when this element arrives in the soundtrack, and it only really happens again in a small handful of other instances, but the contrast is so stealthy and subtle that it gets us every time, and works beautifully in balance with the airy, pensive, isolated economy of David Shire’s other pieces in the soundtrack.