Aristotle Torres Top 5 Favorite Film Soundtracks

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Writer, director, filmmaker, DJ, athlete, and all around good guy, Aristotle Torres (aka VXA) is a renaissance man from the Bronx. We met many years ago when I produced a video that VXA was featured in. We’ve kept up through social media as I’m always liking or digging things he shares online. VXA appreciates both visuals and music and how they compliment each other. With that I asked him to share some of his favorite film scores/soundtracks. Learn about his 2018 short film “Story Ave” and check out his list below.


One of my favorite quotes on filmmaking is from Martin Scorsese - "Half of cinema is sound" 

I love that quote. In five words you understand the scope of movies and how important the combination of visuals paired with audio is. Watch a film with poor sound design and/or score - it's an unpleasant experience. So, when Jones Robinson asked me to write something up on my favorite soundtracks, I jumped at the opportunity to share my appreciation for two of my biggest loves: film and music. 

First up, I'm going with a soundtrack that has not only impacted me on a sonic level but has actually been instrumental in helping me write my first feature film. I can honestly credit this body of music in helping craft my story, matching the lyric of dialogue or structure with the pacing of the score. 

"IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK" 
Dir. Barry Jenkins. 2017
Original Score by Nicholas Britell
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As I learn more and more about filmmaking, I realize how important musical themes are to establishing your characters internal conflict. This score does that to perfection. Even now, when I hear certain chord progressions from the soundtrack, I'm immediately drawn back to the visual of Fonny fighting for his place in the world and Tish doing her best to support him. Pure Magic. 

Speaking of magic, this next soundtrack overflows with it. Eclectic sounds, global appeal, romantic themes, mixed with strong musical elements. It's also the middle child of one of my favorite franchises. 

"OCEANS TWELVE"  
Dir. Steven Soderbergh. 2004
Composed by David Holmes
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I remember the day I saw this film in theatres and immediately fell in love with the score. Even the way the film starts. (Spoilers Ahead) It's Brad Pitt, a convicted con-man doing a major heist in Amsterdam. His girlfriend, Catherine Zeta Jones, a top-level detective at Interpol is investigating Brad's very crime. During a passive couple'ish conversation one night when Brad returns to their apartment, he realizes she's almost on-to-him so he immediately jumps out of the bathroom window. Freeze Frame - Queue: Ornella Vanoni's "L'Appuntamento". 

Next up is just a classic soundtrack. If you have any appreciation for black music, cinema or culture, you know exactly what I'm talking about. 

"NUTTY PROFESSOR 2: THE KLUMPS" 
Dir. Peter Segal 
Composed by David Newman 
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One word: JAMS. "Hey Papi" "Thong Song" "Missing You" "Just Friends" "Off The Wall". All joints that can still go hard today at your summer BBQ. This is quite possibly one of the best compilations of music ever assembled for a comedic picture. 

Next selection is a bit of a sleeper and a random pick, but still worth a serious listen.  

"SNATCH" 
Dir. Guy Ritchie. 2000
Composed by John Murphy
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Snatch is one of my favorite films. It's Ritchie's follow up to his debut film "Lock Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels". Close to a perfect film for me. Direction, performance, dialogue, composition, it all hits home. And the score, it's something else. One of the best moments of the film is compounded by this song by Massive Attack "Angel". Fun Fact: one of my favorite songs ever is on this too - Maceo and The Macks "Cross The Tracks". 

I saved my last selection for two reasons; Its another Barry Jenkins film and it might be the most fun you'll have listening to a soundtrack. 

PURPLE MOONLIGHT inspired by "MOONLIGHT" 
Dir. Barry Jenkins (2016)
Created by The Chopstars
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Moonlight itself is in my Top 5. EVER. And this interpretation of the official soundtrack does not disappoint. The film itself features some chopped n' screwed elements but The Chopstars take it to a whole 'nother level. Also, from a blending/mix/DJ standpoint, these guys are the real deal. 

Hope you enjoy and if you have soundtracks in your life that inspire you, please shoot em my way! 

Instagram: @AristotleBAM 

Must Read - Deep Thoughts: Inspiration for the Uninspired by Jack Handey

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Jack Handey was a writer for SNL in the mid 80’s. I absolutely loved watching his sketches which were always a little off and odd, that always at 12:45 when the show was about to be over. I later learned that the last quadrant of the show close to the end is where “smart” sketches like his that are deemed “Too Smart” for 12am - 12:40am run. Some of his greatest sketches were “Toonces The Driving Cat”, “Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer”, “Fuzzy Memories”, and my favorite “Deep Thoughts” by Jack Handey (his actual real name). I bought his first book many decades ago which feature an assortment of his random soliloquies. It’s a simple and funny read that I come back to for a laugh. Buy it.

NYT Magazine published a great feature on him years ago that you can read here - Excerpt below.

The archetypal Jack Handey sketch is about Frankenstein, or flying saucers, or a cat who, for some reason, can drive a car. “Little-boy stuff,” Handey explained. He often worked alone on his sketches rather than team up with other writers, and he liked to work from his and Marta’s Chelsea apartment, so he would show up each week to Wednesday read-throughs with these fully formed, immaculate sketches that would freak everyone out. Franken recalled a sketch called “Giant Businessman,” about an actual giant (played by Phil Hartman) who calls the cops on the loud party next door, then is terrified when the neighbor threatens him. At the read-through, Franken laughed so long and hard at the sketch’s final beat — in which the giant asked the F.B.I., sincerely, if he might join the witness protection program — that he had to excuse himself from the crowded room because his laughter was interrupting the next sketch.

Recommendation - Bowie's Impeccable and Mature Approach to Taste

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You go through stages in your life as someone who’s passionate about something. There’s the early phase where you are raw and nothing but pure energy taking in everything possible like a sponge. There’s the participation phase where you get involved learning about that interest, developing a community around that shared interest. The next stage is (all bravado and not actually) that you know everything and can flex your muscles as a knowledge base. You take in less and pontificate a lot. Now knowing more than you did in the beginning there’s now ego. You become a (annoying) know it all. You rigorously support and create levels to which newbies must attain to earn your respect within the space. Then as you get older you (hoepfully) get over yourself and that ego. The things you held high as the word of god itself don’t matter as much as it once did. You enjoy and celebrate others enjoying the same thing. No longer a proud gate-keeper you share with no agenda of one-upping or proving yourself. You share as a means to give to others around you.

David Bowie’s Favorite Albums
David Bowie’s Favorite Books

I doubt David Bowie went through the cultural fan life cycle I described above. I believe that David had it figured out from the beginning as a young person. I believe that he was excited and inspired not letting ego overtake him as it did to so many. He let inspiration come and allowed that inspiration to play a part in his creative output. He never stopped being a fan. If you read interviews with him or hear from people who studied his life, he loved art in all forms. This is something we could all learn from. His fandom then and throughout his life was a mature fandom that was self-assured and not afraid to share obvious things that people would not expect when their playing the “how obscure can you get” recommendation game. It comes across as you read the list. Also making a list is difficult. Good Job, David.

Recommendation - Let’s Rave! Dipset Trance Party

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If I told you that Trance and Hip Hop could be a great combination would you believe me? I wouldn’t. But it’s TRUE! Read on….

I was late to Cam’ron and the Dipset Revolution that happened in the early to mid 2000’s. By the time I started paying attention to Cam I was living in NYC in 2008 where I was swept up in the fever of his past work and acclaim. I missed the 02 - 06 prime, which was where Cam, Juelz, Jim Jones and Purple set affiliates were releasing key mixtapes (CDR status), setting fashion trends, and were the soundtrack to all of Harlem.

In 2008 or 2009 Cam’ron came to my job to do a listening party for his soon to be released album “Crime Pays.” The album was ok but listening to it live the thing that stood out to me was the instrumentals. The beats were the 2000’s rap equivalent to Spector’s “Wall of Sound” and My Bloody Valentines 90’s fuzz tones. The sonics were out of control and distorted (in a good way). It was 100% maximalism.

I later learned that majority of the production was produced by a cadre of producers that produced exclusively for Dipset. One of those producers was named “AraabMuzik” who later went on to become a solo artist and live act in his own right. AraabMuzik’s profile shot up a year later in 2010 and he released his debut album in 2011. His music/live set was cool but the real story was the group of producers who he came up with that along with him had a deep fascination with trance music.

I’m not sure but sometime between 2009 and 2011 they released a series of mixtapes that explored mashing-up (I know an awful word that should never be used in music) Trance and Hip Hop, two entirely divergent styles of music. The music sounds like the “Eurovision Song Contest” at a rave in Harlem through the filters of kids influenced by Just-Blazed, Bink!, and other BIG BEAT producers of that time.

I present to you Dipset Trance Party Volumes 1, 2, and 3. I IMPLORE you to download these ASAP as they could be gone in the near future. Rave on!

Madlib Recommendation - Wrenne Evans recommends Erin Rae

Today on Jones Robinson we have our FIRST Madlib Recommendation: a series I created with the goal of getting recommendations from people who have a unique point of view and, most importantly, good taste. 

First up is one of my favorite people in the world, Ms. Wrenne Evans a photographer out of Nashville, Tennessee who covers music and culture. Wrenne loves music and makes it her world. She also has a wicked sense of humor which you can enjoy on the daily via her twitter account. Her recommendation is the singer songwriter “Erin Rae.”