Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2013 September 16 • Monday

The Soundtrack of the Week is rarely from this century, let alone this year, but number 284 is about as current as we're likely to get around here: Cliff Martinez's score for Only God Forgives (2013).

The music is perfect for the movie, which is a nightmarish tale of depravity, violence and revenge. The story has an Old Testament quality and the treatment is dreamlike, mystical and beautiful. It's been a long time since I've seen such amazing colors in a film.

Martinez's music creates beautiful, surreal, swirling atmospheres. The main title music prepares you for the menace and dread to come, if not for the horrific violence that will likely repulse many viewers.

"Ask Him Why He Killed My Brother" is like the evil twin or Twin Peaks version of Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies". This hauntingly lovely piece is one of my favorites.

The timpani is one of my favorite instruments and it's used very subtly and effectively in "Chang Vision", a creepy and textural sonic lanscape.

More traditional underscoring with frantically bowed strings creating tension can be heard in "Do As Thou Will".

The cue for "Crystal Checking In" is angelic-sounding, which at first seems like the opposite effect for a character such as Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas in a powerful and startling performance). She's basically Satan but of course Satan/Lucifer started out as an angel.

"Sister Part 1" is another dreamy and lovely piece that reminded me a bit of Badalamenti's Twin Peaks music.

Philip Glass-like arpeggios with prog rock instrumentation and blasting church organ make "Wanna Fight" an extremely compelling piece of music.

Also included on the CD are two of the karaoke songs from the film, performed by the actors and Mr. Martinez himself, presumably on synthesizer.

The last track is "You're My Dream" which is credited to a band or group or something called Proud.