Brooding instrumental ballads from the Grindermen
Maybe it’s the aching romanticism, maybe it’s the moral absolutes or maybe it’s just all that gorgeous blood and thunder, but the New Western has proved fertile ground for some of rock’s wildest mavericks. [b]Bob Dylan[/b] infamously appeared in and scored [b]Sam Peckinpah[/b]’s Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid. [b]Robert Altman[/b] shot to a soundtrack of [b]Leonard Cohen[/b] songs on McCabe and Mrs Miller. And [b]Neil Young[/b] provided an oddball addition to the canon with his work on [b]Jim Jarmusch[/b]’s inscrutably deadpan Dead Man.
Having long aspired to precisely that company, [b]Nick Cave[/b] is fast becoming the go-to guy to soundtrack your modern-day existential horse opera. He paired up with long-time [b]Bad Seed/Grinderman[/b] accomplice [b]Warren Ellis[/b] in 2005 to provide music for his own outback vengeance drama The Proposition, and now the duo have been commissioned by Aussie auteur [b]Andrew Dominik[/b] (director of the stunning Chopper, among others) to score his would-be Malickian adaptation of Ron Hansen’s novel, The Assassination of Jesse James…
[b]The Proposition[/b]featured tracks with such functional titles as “Sad Violin Thing” and “Gun Thing”, and the new record kicks off with an ominous piano and violin number called “A Rather Lovely Thing”. In truth, half of a dozen of the tracks here could be similarly titled. Dominik’s ambitions for his movie were apparently scuppered by the studio, but that doesn’t seem to have had any effect on the music which is thick with atmosphere, though — entirely instrumental — short on incident. Cave makes a brief cameo in the film, to sing a Jesse-inspired folksong with Zooey Deschanel, but that makes no appearance here. Instead we get a rich, heady musical moonshine, at its best on the twinkling spooked piano of “Song for Jesse”.
[b]Q&A With Warren Ellis:[/b]
UNCUT:Do you and Nick work differently on soundtracks compared to song-based material?
WARREN ELLIS: [b]With a film you are serving something else,and you find yourself making music you wouldn’t necessarily do in your group.Generally there are no lyrics,so it’s a different thing, more open ended, less reliant on form and structure.We tend to create the music apart from the images, then apply it and see how it fits. We don’t spot music,or provide stings as such.I think it’s quite different to how other composers work.[/b]
What was your brief?
[b]We were sent one minute of Brad Pitt saying the same line over and over, and made the bulk of the music from that session. It was then left up to Nick and myself to find a way of doing what we do and in some way meet the demands of such a project.I think Andrew has made a huge leap with this film. It’s extraordinairy.[/b]
What’s the appeal of the Western?
[b]What’s not to like about a good Western?! But it’s a coincidence that we’ve done two of them. Recently we completed music for a documentary on an English brain surgeon![/b]