Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
The Proposition: Original Soundtrack
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2006, Volume 13, #6
Written by Tracy M. Rogers
The soundtrack to Nick Cave’s feature film The Proposition is one of those rare, movie-derived endeavors that works as a cohesive whole. Co-written by Cave and violinist Warren Ellis, The Proposition: Original Soundtrack is imbued with a haunting ethereal quality that belongs to the barren expanses of the Australian outback. As such, the outing frequently recalls visual images and moods implicit in the film, though it also sparks its own atmosphere as it vacillates between folk, electronica, rock, and avant-garde influences.
Combining Ellis’ classical violin flourishes with Doug Leitch’s morose, lead guitar accompaniment, the opening Happy Land bears the markings of its 19th century, Celtic folk roots, while The Proposition #1 frames Cave’s eerily hummed vocals with an ominous air of violin. Down in the Valley is one of the few songs that contains lyrics. An outlaw tale of death and desperation, the track is a wistful mix of major chord piano and minor key violin accoutrements. By contrast, the aptly titled Moan Thing finds Cave wailing over a predominantly bass-driven groove.
The Rider #1 is yet another lyrical journey into the Australian outback, though this time, it is flavored with an electronic backing, while Martha’s Dream is a bass-heavy instrumental that veers between being melancholy and ominous. Queenie’s Suite is, by far, the most typically cinematic song on The Proposition: Original Soundtrack, while The Rider #2 places the song’s initial incarnation into acid rock setting. Elsewhere, the mourning is palpable on The Proposition #2, while Sad Violin Thing is at once hopeful and forlorn.
The final three tracks find Cave and Ellis employing full-band instrumentation. The Proposition #3 reprises a now-familiar theme by employing brush drums and bass in order to give the song an almost wistful quality. Meanwhile, Cave’s aching, rough-edged vocals lend a country-rock ambience to Clean Hands. Dirty Hands., and The Rider Song marries Celtic folk with gospel lyrics.
Ultimately, The Proposition: Original Soundtrack is a true rarity — a fascinatingly successful film score that employs popular music without being geared towards radio airplay. Like the film, the collection is unrelenting and sanguine, mysterious and potent.
The Proposition: Original Soundtrack is available from Barnes & Noble.
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The Proposition (Film) is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box