The cinematic of Wes Anderson, the acclaimed American director whose upcoming “Isle of Dogs” is stirring up discussion among film critics, is filled with quirky soundtracks that manage to both please and confound indie music fans.
Since the fictional backdrop of “Isle of Dogs” is a futuristic Japanese metropolis, it should not be surprising to learn that there is only one English-language song on the film’s soundtrack. What is surprising, however, is Anderson’s pick of “I Won’t Hurt You,” an extremely obscure avant garde single dating back to 1967.
“I Won’t Hurt You” is a single produced and performed by the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, a band whose lost recordings can only be found in ultra-rare vinyl collections. Anderson’s choice of an obscure single can be greatly attributed to Randall Poster, a musicologist who has been working with Anderson for more than a decade.
For his film “The Darjeeling Limited,” Anderson asked Poster to track down master tapes of some of the most obscure films directed by Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray. According to a feature article published by indie music news website Pitchfork, Wes Anderson approaches soundtrack selections with curatorial spirit; such was the effort in choosing Brazilian musician Seu Jorge and his samba-tinged covers of David Bowie songs.
Anderson is not above choosing popular songs for his films; for example, “Rushmore” featured well-known singles by British rock legends the Rolling Stones, the Faces and The Who, but he still managed to sneak “Making Time” by The Creation, an obscure American garage rock band that was somehow missed by major recording studios.
The avant garde rock single that will appear on the “Isle of Dogs” soundtrack has somewhat of a precedent. In 1996, Anderson’s first studio movie “Bottle Rocket,” starring Owen Wilson, featured two songs by the 1960s psychedelic rock band Love.
For “The Royal Tenenbaums,” Anderson chose “Needle in the Hay” by the late Elliott Smith, a beautiful song that caught the attention of indie folk fans. By now, obscure vinyl record collectors are probably eagerly awaiting to hear upcoming soundtracks curated by Anderson.