4 / 5 Stars
Ravenous was billed as tongue-in-cheek comedy about frontier life and rampant cannibalism.The critical reception for this gore-fest was mixed at best, but few seemed to disagree that this film would have a very small - but in all likelihood, very emphatic -audience.So it is with this score, which doesn't really doesn't come close to hitting the usual level of accessibility achieved by the music of Michael Nyman (or Damon Albarn of the rock group Blur, for that matter).From the outset, let it be known that I love this score.I think it's a perverse little gem, but can also see where a lot of people might have a lot of disdain for it.I have no idea who came up with idea for this bizarre pairing of composers, but one can clearly hear Nyman's hand in most of the score.
The album begins hideously, though it's noteworthy that it is meant to sound that way."Hail Columbia" is the first of three quasi-"frontier band" pieces, played by great musicians in the manner of an ill-trained ensemble of bad musicians.These are the tracks that I tend to skip over (always, in fact).The second track, though, is what I believe determines one's true feelings about this score.After thirty seconds of drum hits and a banjo playing the same two notes over and over and over again, a squeeze-box (an accordion-like instrument) makes its entrance, followed by a fiddle, and so on.The first time I heard this cue ("Boyd's Journey") I lamented having bought the album, and was woeful of what I might be in for.Upon listening again, though, I discovered that it had a sort of clumsy heroism to it, and little by little, I came to love it.
The rest of the album is a mixed bag.Nyman's very distinct style can be heard most prominently in the brief "Ives Returns" (complete with baritone sax and pounding piano), and the track "Trek To the Cave," which is one of my favorites on the album.Another example of the additive process from track 2 (though much bigger this time) is "Colquhoun's Story," which begins with a cute-ish squeeze-box tune, and evolves into an utterly terrifying piece."The Cave" is the closest this album ever comes to sounding like your "average" film score, though it does so in a majestic and altogether beautiful way."Let's Go Kill That Bastard" is some really awesome electronic/percussion-based music, and "Run" is a hillbilly tune written to accompany a scene of men being chased and eaten; these two tracks show quite nicely the extreme contrast between the different styles presented on the album."Ives Torments Boyd and Kills Knox" is a lot more lyrical and beautiful than its title implies.Finally, the "End Credits" cue reprises the theme heard in "Boyd's Journey," with an even more quasi-heroic feel this time, and segues into a fabulously Nyman-esque melody for sax and horn.
There's bound to be something for you to like on this album - it's so varied.The question is whether you will be able to tolerate the stuff you don't like to get to that which you do.As for me, even I can't often stomach the whole thing - but there are moments on this disc that I wouldn't like to do without.