"Major American contemporary composer" rarely evokes the phrases: "has really cool friends, among them the Coen brothers"; "is represented by CAA"; "knows Haendel and Moroccan traditional music and is into anime"; and "creates really exciting music", but for one composer, it does:
Going against the grain is Carter Burwell. Composer of music for films and other v. interesting projects, all product of his special talent. His website is full of interesting content and lots of mp3s. He has written film scores for, ahem, scores of great films -- all of the Coen bros including their latest, No Country For Old Men, then Before Night Falls, Almereyda's Hamlet, Being John Malkovich, The Celluloid Closet, Gods And Monsters, The Spanish Prisoner, As The Band Played On.