Christopher Makoto Yogi’s I Was a Simple Man — a slow, mind-bending ghost story set on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu — premiered at Sundance in January 2021. Today, Montreal label Éditions Appærent has released the film's score by Alex Zhang Hungtai and Pierre Guerineau as an official soundtrack on CD, shipping out April 1.
The film turned heads last year with its dreamlike tone, emotional depth, and gorgeous shots of the Hawaiian landscape, and the score was a major factor in its eerie elegance. The sound has such a singular sense of solitude that it's difficult to imagine more than one entity creating it. It's almost impossible to tell where Hungtai — a Taiwanese-Canadian saxaphonist and composer who's made surf rock as Dirty Beaches and free jazz as Last Lizard — ends and Guerineau — best-known for his EBM experiments with Marie Davidson as Essaie Pas — begins. Its simple piano melodies rarely stray far from their original ranges in tone, timbre, or dynamics, but they're augmented by ambient drones that blend cleverly with the sounds of the island to create fascinating new textures.