Dossier: Brian Reitzell

October 07th, 2009 | Category: Essays, Videos

So, I was watching the Kevin Spacey movie Shrink (2009) yesterday, and I couldn’t help but notice that the score sounded very similar to the one for Friday Night Lights (2004) that Explosions in the Sky did. I opened up my laptop and found out that the movie Shrink was scored by Brian Reitzell… type, type, type… enhance… type, type, type... who produced the Friday Night Lights soundtrack… and used to play drums for Redd Kross. He is also credited with coaxing Kevin Shields out of hiding to do work on the Lost in Translation (2003) soundtrack (subsequently reuniting My Bloody Valentine). Hmmm

Brian ReitzellMore typing and enhancing later and I learned that Brian Reitzell has been making badass film music for a decade now, not to mention providing the beats for one of my favorite early-90s pop bands. His unique approach to sound has abetted Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides (1999), Lost in Translation, and Marie Antoinette (2006), as well as Stranger Than Fiction (2006). He most recently — before Shrink — scored all of 30 Days of Night (2007), for which he built an instrument out of a potter’s wheel.

30 Days of Night“I got a pottery wheel because I am obsessed with Doppler, things spinning around your head,” Reitzell told Chaos Control Digizine. “I took this black tube that I got at Home Depot and I affixed it around the pottery wheel. The pottery wheel looks like a turntable, it spins. This particular one cost me $800 so I was a little worried that I wasn’t going to be able to get it to work. But you can put 150 lbs of pressure on it, and it can extend from 0 to 280 RPMs, and you can control it with a foot pedal. So I suspended the tube with bungee cables affixed to cymbal stands, sort of around the circumference of the platter. And then I affixed a felt palette in the center of the pottery wheel using some rigging gear that cinematographers or grips use on film. The mallet would sort of rest on top of the tube, and the tube has ridges on it so when the mallet was spinning around, it would rub on those ridges and create this very eerie sound. The faster I would spin it, the higher the pitch would be. I shock-mounted microphones onto either side inside the tube, and lo and behold, I had the perfect doppler.”

Logan's SanctuaryReitzell, along with Jellyfish alumni Roger Manning Jr. and Jason Faulkner, also scored a non-existant sequel to Logan’s Run (1976). Dubbed Logan’s Sanctuary, the soundtrack without a film was released by the late Emperor Norton Records in 2000, who’d also released The Virgin Suicides soundtrack. “The head of Emperor Norton asked me specifically to do that,” Reitzell explains. “It was his idea. He wanted me to do a real score to a fake movie. And that movie was to be the sequel to Logan’s Run. To do that, I enlisted my friend Roger Manning, who I’ve known for years. He played with Jellyfish, and was playing with Beck at the time. Roger and I set out to do this, but to do it I had to write a plot. So I sat down and wrote a storyline with the help of a friend, and then we started scoring scene by scene. Originally, we weren’t going to use our real names, it was going to be a hoax. But then when we turned it in, the record label was so happy with it that they wanted to exploit it.”

So, while I wait for the Shrink score to be released, I’ll be spinning Reitzell’s other soundtracks and listening to “The Lady in the Front Row” over and over. It’s good stuff.


Here’s the video for TV Eyes’ “She’s a Study” [runtime: 4:52]. TV Eyes is/was (details are sketchy) Reitzell’s band with Roger Manning and Jason Falkner (ex-Jellyfish).


Read the complete interview with Brian Reitzell at Chaos Control Digizine.

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