Jesus in the movies

Peter Gabriel’s “The Feeling Begins” from The Last Temptation of Christ

Listen to this piece by world music enthusiast, soundtrack composer, and sometime pop star Peter Gabriel.  It’s  his ‘The Feeling Begins”, the studio version of which appears on his soundtrack album Passion, which is comprised of the music featured as the soundtrack for Martin Scorsese’s 1988 movie the Last Temptation of Christ.

Peter Gabriel 'Passion', is soundtrack to Martin Scorsese's 1988 film the Last Temptation of Christ, starring Willem Defoe as an introspective and vulnerable Jesus of Nazareth. The Christian Right weren't impressed.

The lead instrument here is a duduk, which is a double-reed wind instrument that is widely used in the Middle-East, as well as being related to a family of instruments that can be found in places as far flung as Armenia and Russia.  Its use is said to predate the time of Jesus by a thousand years.  And a more mournful use of it I can’t imagine. This piece is truly atmospheric, spooky even, and completely evocative of a stirring feeling that makes you think that there are forces in the world which have been deployed to challenge your mettle.   In short, it’s perfect for the story behind which it sets the emotional stage.

Yet, I think too that Gabriel designed this music to be listened to as well as to serve as a soundtrack to the story, so full of (here it comes) passion as it is.  And when you really consider a lot of his post-Genesis material, it’s really not too far away from his usual modus operandi in any case.

For instance, the percussion is way up front in this, and on many of the other pieces on the album too.  Even if this music is a bit of a departure in other ways, it’s still strongly flavoured with Gabriel’s unique taste for musical fusion cuisine, here throwing in some North African sounds in with those of the Middle East. (more…)