The Proposition - The Proposition

2006-04-20 12:44
Soundtrack releases are often splintered and uneven affairs, but they are obviously intended as atmospheric pieces, enhancing mood or giving tone to a visual stimulus. As in the case of most orchestrated and mainly instrumental soundtracks, The Proposition may feel a little incongruous as a commercial release.

Someone is going to try to palm this off on Bad Seeds and Dirty Three fans. Sadly - though perhaps not surprisingly - only some of those fans will regard The Proposition as vaguely significant.

It dangerously skirts the indulgent and excessive Cave tangents felt in his book "And The Ass Saw The Angel", and without an obvious lyrical narrative to lead it (we haven't seen the movie, granted), The Proposition merely becomes a vague landscape upon which to imagine something of your own hyper-real design. Aurally, The Proposition OST evokes the vast terrains and big, open unforgiving, hot skies; long distances and surreal, cruel environments. There are lengthy stretches of nearly atonal drones and hums, and they lilt and bump gently, but not enough to disturb a strangely languid, if hypnotic rhythm.

Most of the pieces are short and tense – some would say intense. Occasionally a jarring tone jumps out from behind a small hill, reminding you of the dangers that lie in wait for those who lose their concentration… It is a gothic and violent sense of beauty, reminiscent of – but not nearly comparable to - Neil Young's haunting work on Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man (1995).

On the few occasions that Cave croons a few words - notably on three of the four different variations of "The Rider" - it's unnecessary. As for the final version of "The Rider", which is one of only two actual vocal "songs" in the collection, it probably fits most comfortably into the Nocturama (2003) / Lyre of Orpheus (2004) mode of the Bad Seeds' vast repertoire.

That's not really reason enough to own this then, but if the rest of your collection does contain the odd Sandy Dillon, Dirty Three, or Bonny Prince Billy, it wouldn't hurt to pick this up for a song from the bargain bin one day.

- Anton Marshall

The Proposition is an upcoming UK/Australian film set in late 19th Century Australia, scripted by Nick Cave, and scored by Bad Seeds buddies Cave and Warren Ellis.

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