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Nick Cave|The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford

The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

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Very few people actually got to see The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, directed by Australian director Andrew Dominik and based on Ron Hansen's brilliant novel. It's an interesting thing, really: it starred Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck (and the latter got all kinds of accolades from critics, some of whom predicting an Oscar for him in the role of Robert Ford). American audiences are weird that way: they'll spend three or four hours to see a film not supported by a strong narrative, but pass on something that involves the story at every turn and in every shot, whether it's the landscape, the weather, or the actual characters moving through it. Nick Cave is no stranger to writing cinematic scores; this is his fourth, and his second with Bad Seed and Grinderman bandmate Warren Ellis. Their last effort was the soundtrack to an actual Australian western, the brutal yet wonderful Proposition; the screenplay was actually written by Cave. It was a wide-ranging soundtrack, going from strange, eerie, spacious moments to those of great drama and tension. It featured some fearsome musical excess as well as skeletal contemplative ones. The music here is drenched in as much dread, shadow, and darkness as its predecessor, but it's a much more narrative and sophisticated undertaking. The theme, "Rather Lovely Thing," circles its way through the film and enters and exits with regularity, anchoring the viewer, and here, of course, the listener, though it's less apparent. Other cues are beautifully and simply named: "Movin' On," "What Must Be Done," "Last Ride Back to KC," "Destined for Great Things," and the rest. The use of violin, electric guitars, piano, a second violin, viola, bass, some drums and percussion, celeste, cello, and other sundry items are employed very specifically -- check the use of all the strings (though not a string orchestra or string section; this isn't a Danny Elfman score) in "The Money Train," where foreboding, loss, drama, and tension all vie for attention, and the notion of a climactic consequence is firmly in the mind of the listener. It is answered by a lone piano, miked very closely, almost from the inside, as strings answer underscoring the conclusion of what must be done to get rid of James. The determinate nature of the music is not in any way steely; it's almost sad, as if these men know that a genuine archetype, a folk hero, needs to go die in order for America itself to become a tamer, more ordered place, a place where emotions have no place in structure, and something like steely determination is a more calculated and cold undertaking. The way Ellis and Gerard McCain order their stringed instruments is almost painterly. The sense of history is at play in the emotional content of the music rather than around it. Just before the score ends, there is one of the most evocative tracks, simple and effective, called "Counting the Stars." Miked so closely the listener can hear the pianist's feet on the pedals, it lasts only a minute-and-twenty seconds, but in it one can feel what has transpired, what cannot be undone, and how it was done. The music doesn't serve to do anything but look out at a new sonic terrain that reflects the character of the land itself; it is at once more alien and more ghostly and more suspect in spite of its tenderness, because it makes room for and tolerates just such a melody. This is Cave's most extraordinary achievement as a composer of film music thus far. It's all come together here between him and Ellis, two very natural collaborators. This music is certainly cinematic, but despite its vast reach, it is constructed with relative simplicity and an almost taut sparseness that makes it stand as a work on its own.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford

Nick Cave

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1
Rather Lovely Thing
Sam Jones
00:03:13

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Orchestral Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recording Engineer - Sam Jones, Recording - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Piano, Triangle, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Nick Cervonaro, Recording - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, String Arranger, Cello, Piano - Jake Rousham, Recording - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

2
Moving On
Sam Jones
00:02:32

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Tom Bailey, Assistant - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer, Masterer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recorder - Sam Jones, Recording, Assistant - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Piano, Triangle, Strings, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, Strings, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Cello, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Cello, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Vicci Wardman, Viola - Nick Cervonaro, Recording, Assistant - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor, Strings Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, Arranger, Cello, Piano, Strings - Jake Rousham, Recording, Assistant - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

3
Song for Jesse
Sam Jones
00:02:36

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Tom Bailey, Assistant - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer, Masterer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recorder - Sam Jones, Recording, Assistant - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Piano, Triangle, Strings, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, Strings, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Cello, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Cello, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Vicci Wardman, Viola - Nick Cervonaro, Recording, Assistant - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor, Strings Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, Arranger, Cello, Piano, Strings - Jake Rousham, Recording, Assistant - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

4
Falling
Sam Jones
00:02:54

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Orchestral Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recording Engineer - Sam Jones, Recording - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Piano, Triangle, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Nick Cervonaro, Recording - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, String Arranger, Cello, Piano - Jake Rousham, Recording - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

5
Cowgirl
Sam Jones
00:04:06

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Orchestral Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recording Engineer - Sam Jones, Recording - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Piano, Triangle, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Nick Cervonaro, Recording - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, String Arranger, Cello, Piano - Jake Rousham, Recording - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

6
The Money Train
Sam Jones
00:02:38

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Orchestral Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recording Engineer - Sam Jones, Recording - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Piano, Triangle, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Nick Cervonaro, Recording - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, String Arranger, Cello, Piano - Jake Rousham, Recording - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

7
What Must Be Done
Sam Jones
00:01:58

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Tom Bailey, Assistant - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer, Masterer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recorder - Sam Jones, Recording, Assistant - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Piano, Triangle, Strings, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, Strings, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Cello, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Cello, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Vicci Wardman, Viola - Nick Cervonaro, Recording, Assistant - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor, Strings Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, Arranger, Cello, Piano, Strings - Jake Rousham, Recording, Assistant - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

8
Another Rather Lovely Thing
Sam Jones
00:03:28

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Orchestral Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recording Engineer - Sam Jones, Recording - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Piano, Triangle, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Nick Cervonaro, Recording - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, String Arranger, Cello, Piano - Jake Rousham, Recording - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

9
Carnival
Sam Jones
00:02:52

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Orchestral Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recording Engineer - Sam Jones, Recording - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Piano, Triangle, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Nick Cervonaro, Recording - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, String Arranger, Cello, Piano - Jake Rousham, Recording - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

10
Last Ride Back to KC
Sam Jones
00:05:24

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Orchestral Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recording Engineer - Sam Jones, Recording - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Piano, Triangle, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Nick Cervonaro, Recording - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, String Arranger, Cello, Piano - Jake Rousham, Recording - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

11
What Happens Next
Sam Jones
00:02:08

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Orchestral Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recording Engineer - Sam Jones, Recording - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Piano, Triangle, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Nick Cervonaro, Recording - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, String Arranger, Cello, Piano - Jake Rousham, Recording - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

12
Destined for Great Things
Sam Jones
00:02:26

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Orchestral Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recording Engineer - Sam Jones, Recording - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Piano, Triangle, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Nick Cervonaro, Recording - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, String Arranger, Cello, Piano - Jake Rousham, Recording - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

13
Counting the Stars
Sam Jones
00:01:20

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Orchestral Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recording Engineer - Sam Jones, Recording - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Piano, Triangle, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, String Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Nick Cervonaro, Recording - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, String Arranger, Cello, Piano - Jake Rousham, Recording - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

14
Song for Bob
Sam Jones
00:06:03

Steve Morris, Violin - A. Bruno, Recording - Matt Dunkley, Arranger, Orchestra Leader - Jonathan Williams, Cello - Tom Bailey, Assistant - Mike Marsh, Engineer, Mastering Engineer, Masterer - Chris Laurence, Bass - Julia Singleton, Violin - mary Scully, Bass - Peter Lale, Viola - Jake Jackson, Mixer, Engineer, Recorder - Sam Jones, Recording, Assistant - Jim Sclavunos, Drums - Martyn Casey, Bass - Nick Cave, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Piano, Triangle, Strings, MainArtist - Warren Ellis, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Piano, Viola, Violin, Strings, MainArtist - George Robertson, Viola - Frank Schaefer, Cello, Celli Cello - Rachel Bolt, Viola - Mark Berrow, Violin - Sonia Slany, Violin - Maciej Rakowski, Violin - Paul Kegg, Cello, Celli Cello - Jonathan Evans-Jones, Violin - Vicci Wardman, Viola - Nick Cervonaro, Recording, Assistant - Bea Lovejoy, Violin - Gabrielle Lester, Conductor, Strings Conductor - Gerard McCann, Producer, Mixer, Arranger, Cello, Piano, Strings - Jake Rousham, Recording, Assistant - Luke Cave, Triangle - Vicky Wardman, Viola

© 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company ℗ 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures, a division of WB Studios Enterprises under exclusive licence to Mute Records Ltd, a BMG Company

Album Description

Very few people actually got to see The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, directed by Australian director Andrew Dominik and based on Ron Hansen's brilliant novel. It's an interesting thing, really: it starred Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck (and the latter got all kinds of accolades from critics, some of whom predicting an Oscar for him in the role of Robert Ford). American audiences are weird that way: they'll spend three or four hours to see a film not supported by a strong narrative, but pass on something that involves the story at every turn and in every shot, whether it's the landscape, the weather, or the actual characters moving through it. Nick Cave is no stranger to writing cinematic scores; this is his fourth, and his second with Bad Seed and Grinderman bandmate Warren Ellis. Their last effort was the soundtrack to an actual Australian western, the brutal yet wonderful Proposition; the screenplay was actually written by Cave. It was a wide-ranging soundtrack, going from strange, eerie, spacious moments to those of great drama and tension. It featured some fearsome musical excess as well as skeletal contemplative ones. The music here is drenched in as much dread, shadow, and darkness as its predecessor, but it's a much more narrative and sophisticated undertaking. The theme, "Rather Lovely Thing," circles its way through the film and enters and exits with regularity, anchoring the viewer, and here, of course, the listener, though it's less apparent. Other cues are beautifully and simply named: "Movin' On," "What Must Be Done," "Last Ride Back to KC," "Destined for Great Things," and the rest. The use of violin, electric guitars, piano, a second violin, viola, bass, some drums and percussion, celeste, cello, and other sundry items are employed very specifically -- check the use of all the strings (though not a string orchestra or string section; this isn't a Danny Elfman score) in "The Money Train," where foreboding, loss, drama, and tension all vie for attention, and the notion of a climactic consequence is firmly in the mind of the listener. It is answered by a lone piano, miked very closely, almost from the inside, as strings answer underscoring the conclusion of what must be done to get rid of James. The determinate nature of the music is not in any way steely; it's almost sad, as if these men know that a genuine archetype, a folk hero, needs to go die in order for America itself to become a tamer, more ordered place, a place where emotions have no place in structure, and something like steely determination is a more calculated and cold undertaking. The way Ellis and Gerard McCain order their stringed instruments is almost painterly. The sense of history is at play in the emotional content of the music rather than around it. Just before the score ends, there is one of the most evocative tracks, simple and effective, called "Counting the Stars." Miked so closely the listener can hear the pianist's feet on the pedals, it lasts only a minute-and-twenty seconds, but in it one can feel what has transpired, what cannot be undone, and how it was done. The music doesn't serve to do anything but look out at a new sonic terrain that reflects the character of the land itself; it is at once more alien and more ghostly and more suspect in spite of its tenderness, because it makes room for and tolerates just such a melody. This is Cave's most extraordinary achievement as a composer of film music thus far. It's all come together here between him and Ellis, two very natural collaborators. This music is certainly cinematic, but despite its vast reach, it is constructed with relative simplicity and an almost taut sparseness that makes it stand as a work on its own.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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