Obscure isn’t a strong enough word to emphasize the depths to which Quentin Tarantino goes in selecting music for his soundtracks. With the help of RZA, the enigmatic producer behind the slowly disintegrating Wu-Tang Clan, he organized the smattering of music for “Kill Bill: Vol. 1.” That disc managed to balance the RZA’s natural taste for avant-garde trip-hop and Tarantino’s dizzying devotion to rockabilly.
It seems that Tarantino won round two. Pluming the depths of pop and world music, the album has blustery Spanish guitars and the overall feel of a classic Western. No surprise then that the godfather of the spaghetti Western soundtrack, Ennio Morricone, has three songs on the disc. The twang of Charlie Feathers and the sinister acoustic guitar creep of Luis E. Baclov’s “Summertime Killer” mirrors the film’s bone-dry landscapes.
The commitment to the overlooked corners of music is compelling, but the album’s poor sequencing and droning lone-star guitars make much of it unappealing to the casual listener and jarring to the devotee. Drained of as much life as one of The Bride’s victims, the pasty soundscapes provoke nothing.
The track listing is more exciting than the music itself. Other than David Carradine’s admittedly alluring pit-viper drawl, the snippets of dialogue from the movie serve no purpose. The two non-Wester-themed tracks, “About Her” and “Urami Bushi” arrive too late on the disc to wake the listener from their rambling slumber. Solemn backbeats of Malcolm McLearn’s “About Her” echo the disenchantment of Uma Thurman’s character well. “Urami Bushi” has Asian-flavored melodies and spiting rap verses with witty references to movie characters. It’s a song begging for earlier placement. Philosophy be damned, the song could have even been packaged as a single.
Commendable as the lack of album filler may be, the patchwork framing of this disc could make one long for the predictability of some Beatles covers. Tarantino crafted this soundtrack in his own mind from his exclusive musical tastes. Boldly unapologetic as it is, the finished product is likely to go nowhere other than its creator’s private collection.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars