There are three unforgettable things about the film adaptation of Walter Tevis's The Man Who Fell to Earth: David Bowie's definitive portrait of alienation, director Nicolas Roeg's distinctive visual games, and the haunting, atmospheric soundtrack holding it all together.
Although Bowie had been asked to compose the score (and echoes of the film found their way into his Station to Station and Low projects), he was otherwise engaged (snort, snort . . . ), and Roeg eventually settled on several tracks from recent albums by Japanese percussionist Stomu Yamash'ta. Yamash'ta would go on to tour the world with the jazzrock supergroup Go (with Steve Winwood, Al Di Meola, and Klaus Schulze), and he later issued a series of mystical records, usually found in the New Age section. Fear not: these reissues predate all that and are the sources of the mythical soundtrack for the Bowie/Roeg collaboration.
Forget about noodly fusion or yoga studio mood music — Yamash'ta's early records are experimental without being daunting and will appeal equally to fans of the instrumental widescreen of the Doors' "Riders on the Storm" (though subtler), the discreet watercolors of Eno (though more passionate), and the wilder ethnic acts on the Real World label (though less granola). For a sample of Yamash'ta's impressive range, the tranquil Floating Music (1972) and the car-racing-inspired One by One (1974) are good entry points for this often neglected performer and composer.