Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2009 November 02 • Monday

This November will be Charles Bronson Month at Gutbrain Records. Bronson's birthday is tomorrow, November 3rd. He would be 88 if he were alive today. So all of November's Soundtracks of the Week will be for Charles Bronson films.

First up, SotW #85 is The White Buffalo, music by John Barry.

This is quite appropriate, as John Barry's birthday is also November 3rd! He'll be 76 tomorrow.

The White Buffalo is a strange movie. It's one of those movies that attempt something and don't succeed but are more interesting than the many other movies that succeed by attempting less. I don't think of these kinds of movies as being either good or bad but if I have to take sides, I'll call them good.

In The White Buffalo, Bronson plays Wild Bill Hickok, tormented by dreams in which a giant white buffalo stampedes him. He searches for the creature, determined to confront it even if it kills him.

Meanwhile, the buffalo of his nightmares is terrorizing the west. It wipes out Crazy Horse's village, and this other famous wild-west figure pursues the beast for the sake of another kind of redemption.

The music might be Barry's bleakest score, a tone poem of tension and dread, somewhat relaxed in places by a gloomy melody. A theme for Kim Novak's character is romantic and pretty, the lightest part of the music.

Barry experiments with adding electronic instruments to the orchestra here, something he rarely does. There are also many creepy string passages and excellent, sparse percussion work.