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SONIC DEATH MONKEY Soundtrack Reviews - A Home at the End of the World & Criminal

by Natasha Theobald

Sonic Death Monkey is back!! I've missed writing it, and I hope you've missed reading it. This time around, we'll take a listen to Duncan Sheik and select other tunes from "A Home at the End of the World." Then, we'll find some slinky grooves courtesy of composer Alex Wurman and a twisty little remake - "Criminal."

"A Home at the End of the World" is a film about growing up and choosing the people you love, choosing the place that feels like home. Musician and singer Duncan Sheik took on the task of creating new songs and score pieces to accompany the drama and has succeeded in creating evocative and telling songs pining for "Something Somewhere," addressing fear and yearning, wishing for something just out of reach, whether emotionally or actually. He creates a sense of longing that is palpable and uniquely recognizable to anyone who has felt some need to connect with another person go unmet.

"There's a Home" is slightly more upbeat, offering some connection, some hope. The version with vocals comes late in the disc, but an instrumental version also is available. Among the other Sheik instrumental offerings are "Brothers" and "Leaving." While a beautiful song, "Leaving" still imparts some tension, some piece of the puzzle not yet in place. "Brothers" lightens the mood with a softer, more playful rendering.

There are many recognizable hits from days gone by among the rest of the choices. Dusty Springfield hangs out "Wishin' and Hopin'," Patti Smith buoys the lovers in "Because the Night," and good old Grace Slick leads Jefferson Airplane in looking for "Somebody to Love." Yaz and The Band round out the selection.

Finally, there are additional choices from Mozart, performed by the Slovak Philharmonic Chorus and Capella Istropolitana, to a composition from Steve Reich and a choral version of Bob Dylan featuring Mack James. The amazing range gives this soundtrack a mark of creativity and inventive thinking that is worthy of a listen. It's emotional, but in an honest, an authentic way.

"Criminal" is a remake of the Argentine film "Nine Queens." If you are at all familiar with that film, you know it features a serpentine plot among cons and those who are conned. The new version promises to fulfill the high mark set by its predecessor with dark humor, slippery characters, and a good dose of the unexpected.

Alex Wurman, whose previous credits include "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," has filled the soundtrack with music that also takes the promise seriously. It has a wry sense of itself and the ease of the truly cool. The beats will make you want to move around, but they also belie something sneaky, a lack of predictability that can be enticing and exciting or, ultimately, dangerous and in too deep.

Among my favorites is "Brian Accepts." It has a hint of mystery and an inherent charm, the start of something full of possibility. The beat is funky, and the tossed in vocals disrupt and disarm the listener. There are no words, just sound and experience.

"Book Worm" has a seventies flair and some great guitar. "It's Just a Formality" is the start of a darker turn, somewhat ominous. "Briefcase" amps up the tempo with a restless, reckless energy. Finally, "Closing" wraps things up with sounds reminiscent of "Brian Accepts" and ends on a bit of a troubled streak. The music offers variety and takes chances while still carrying the same thread throughout.

Clifford Brown and the Max Roach Quintet slow things down a bit midway through the disc with a sultry horn and soft piano on "Darn that Dream." The Oscar Peterson Trio with Clark Terry accomplishes a similar feel with "Roundalay," featuring a more upbeat horn, faster piano, and brushed percussion. There are two Medeski Martin & Wood songs included, as well. They aren't in the movie, but they are not a bad addition to the soundtrack.

This soundtrack would make a good 'looking for trouble' disc. Let it serve as inspiration and warning both. You're bored, you just want something to do, you're looking for a bit of an adventure, but please watch out. By the sounds of "Closing," things don't always end the way you might want them to.

That's it for this time. We are officially back from break, so you will be hearing much more from us soon. Michael is still in the wind, but I will be around until he blows back in, bringing you more of what you want in the meantime. Thanks for reading.

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originally posted: 10/01/04 11:29:49
last updated: 05/06/05 08:17:49
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