La Musique de la Terre Vue de Ciel (The Music of Earth from Above) is a soundtrack disc that ties into a French feature film documentary directed by Renaud Delourme. Delourme's film is based on still photographs taken by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, who is noted for his high quality aerial pictures of landscapes, human settlements, and geographic strata. The disc comes with a handsome hardbound illustrated book that contains many of the images seen in the film printed on glossy paper.
This project smacks of familiarity with Godfrey Reggio's 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi, and the accompanying music by Armand Amar likewise is strongly reminiscent of Philip Glass, albeit leavened with a vigorous European flavor. Amar's music is mostly scored for strings, played very crisply by the City of Prague Philharmonic under Mario Klemens, with occasional sparse piano, interjections by mostly Arabic singers, and thankfully no booming disco beat. The music tends toward patterning and is very predictable; almost all of it is in the key of E minor. At one point the listener is treated to a reading of a poem by John Boswell that alludes to the opening to the biblical book of Genesis performed by a French actor in a bedroom whisper à la Serge Gainsbourg. While most of La Musique de la Terre Vue de Ciel is at least tolerable, this section seems to move into the realm of camp, and is frankly hard to take.
As music meant to go with a movie, and thus subject to the requirements of a film director, La Musique de la Terre Vue de Ciel probably works well with the images it is designed to support. Without the visuals, at best the music has a sobriety and gravity that is attractive at times, but at its worst La Musique de la Terre Vue de Ciel is pretentious without being profound. Those who are familiar with this film and enjoy it may not need much convincing to acquire the soundtrack, but even they may find themselves leafing through the sumptuous booklet with more frequency than listening to the music.