Nick Cave And Warren Ellis – White Lunar

January 01, 1970

(Mute)

 

www.mute.com

 

One
of the great revivals of the ‘00s has been the reemergence of the film score as
a viable means of artistic expression (Danny Elfman, notwithstanding). Now all
you Hans Zimmer fans who have the soundtracks to The Lion King and Gladiator on heavy rotation may balk at such a statement. But for those of us who have
halfway decent taste in film music, it has been a revelation to see such
filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, PT Anderson and Wes Anderson
employ such forward-thinking artists as the RZA, Jon Brion and DEVO’s Mark
Mothersbaugh to handle the melodic atmospheres for their movies in the same
manner that such giants of soundtrack composition as Lalo Schifrin and Ennio
Morricone have exhibited throughout the last half-century of filmmaking.

 

But
over the last five years, some of the strongest film music has emerged from the
palate of Nick Cave and the secret weapon of his most
current incarnation of the Bad Seeds, Dirty Three viola violator Warren Ellis.
Together, they have crafted dark sonic panoramas built upon haunting
piano-and-string arrangements, processed sounds, occasional squalls of noise
and at times Cave’s deep, soulful baritone that stay with you long after the
closing credits.

 

White Lunar gathers the finest moments
from Cave and Ellis’s brief-yet-bountiful tenure as soundtrack composers across
a two-disc anthology of highlighted material. The first half focuses on the
duo’s major studio work on such films as 2005’s The Proposition (whose screenplay was written by Cave), 2007’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the
Coward Robert Ford
, not to mention a generous sneak peek at some of the
material to be featured on the soundtrack to Proposition director John Hillcoat’s forthcoming adaptation of
Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic epic The
Road
. The second disc concentrates on the music Cave and Ellis have
commissioned for smaller projects, like The
English Surgeon
, a psychoanalytical meditation on a British doctor’s plight
to bring proper means of neurosurgery to post-Soviet Ukraine, and The Girls from Phnom Penh, a disturbing
expose into the horrors of Cambodia’s sex worker trade. Notable among that
material is the 19-minute “Sorya Market,” which finds a lovely Cave piano
interlude getting bridged by an extended period of silence before Ellis shocks
the listener’s senses with a swarm of mutated viola fuzz as jarring as it is
entrancing.

 

Even
if you own the soundtracks to The Proposition and Robert Ford, White Lunar is an essential exploration into the still-young but
incredibly rich oeuvre of this bold new force on the film score circuit.
(Comparisons to Ry Cooder’s critically hailed ’95 film score anthology Music By Ry Cooder are not unwarranted.)
It’s well worth the minor price of having a few doubles on your iTunes library with
which to contend.

 

Standout Tracks: “Song for Jesse”, “The
Rider”, “The Journey”, “Rat’s Tooth Forceps”, “Sorya Market” RON HART

 

 

 

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