Friday, February 22, 2008

American Psycho

Oh, it's typical, ladies and gentlemen. Sad, but so typical. We've established that Mr. Cale has written scores for many films: some films good, some not; some scores good, some not; some scores released on album, some not; some popular, the vast majority not. So what happens when he writes one of the best scores of his career for a film that, if not a blockbuster, was seen by millions of people?

Well, of course, the soundtrack album released for the film is your typical "various artists" selection. There are a few score excerpts, but they're voiced over by the titular psycho killer, Christian Bale, who, though f-f-f-far better than many narrators, is still an obstruction to my goal, which is hearing the goddamn John Cale score.

A-and it's a hell of a score. It's a little mushy in the late middle, but starts with a bang and ends the same way. The spirit of Bernard Hermann is here (notably on "The Men's Room") - unique for a Cale soundtrack. The piano figure on "The Ritual," while rather unimaginative, is haunting for what's done with it. On "Packing for Paul" Cale recalls his theme for director Mary Harron's earlier film I Shot Andy Warhol. There's a lot of rhythmic tension throughout - unlike some of his more meandering soundtracks, this is mostly a frenetic and tense experience.

When it slows and calms down, though, the effect is powerful - on "The Office," for instance, the eastern-European-feeling horns give the piece an off-kilter nature that's simultaneously threatening and laughable, while the Ligeti influences on "The Second Time"/"The Bloodbath - The Chainsaw" are more effective for being isolated. The churning strings on "The Police" and "The Wrong Building" lose me out of the context of the film, but the Eastern European folk intro of "The Confession" grabs me again.

The most striking track of the score is "The Day Planner" - the weird vocals (by the Mediaeval Babes) are creepy and beautiful, and the sudden appearance of voice has an impressive transformative effect on the soundtrack, allowing for a transition into the drone and serenity of "The End." "American Psycho (Reprise)" provides a smirking, sprightly, sinister finish to it all.

Great stuff! Of note is an interview Cale did about the score, giving a little insight into how he approaches film composition. Screaming rabbits? Yow. He is into music for interrogations!

Psst... there's something nice hiding in the first comment...


Inverarity said...

I'm going to do what the studio didn't and make the score available to you. The region 4 DVD release of the film offers an isolated music audio track which some kind soul ripped and released to the internet at large. I have to give thanks and credit to a poster at, of all things, a message board for the Final Fantasy video game series - without him, I wouldn't have it to give.

Moza said...

Fantastic. Haven't had the chance to hear it yet, but thanks very much.

Anonymous said...

Would it be possible for you to put the score up again? I've been searching for this for ages!
Thank you for your efforts.

Anonymous said...

It would be immensely appreciated if someone, anyone, could re-up this... Thank you thank you thank you..

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