White Lunar (2009)

Themes / Soundtracks Release: Compilation. Mute Records.

White Lunar (2009)

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis have been creating music together for more than fifteen years, with The Bad Seeds, Grinderman and The Dirty Three. More recently, they have collaborated on soundtracks for such films as The Proposition (2005) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007). White Lunar, a two CD set to be released by Mute on 21st September 2009, contains music they composed from the aforementioned films, along with a selection of their cinematic scores, including rare and previously unavailable material.

Cave and Ellis’ first soundtrack together was Australian director John Hillcoat’s 2005 quasi-Western, The Proposition (for which Cave also wrote the screenplay). The following year, the pair received a commission to compose the music for a film by another Australian director, Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. By the time Dominik’s film came out, Hillcoat had begun his adaptation of The Road (Cormac McCarthy’s novel of a father and son’s trek across a vast wasteland in the aftermath of global catastrophe); once again Cave and Ellis were invited to create music for the film. With The Road as yet unreleased, this album offers a rare opportunity for a sneak preview of the soundtrack.

All three movies, with their epic landscapes and acutely incised psychology, find a correlative sweep and depth in the scores that Cave and Ellis have devised for them, and a poignancy that imbues the films with a timeless aura; the music from this triumvirate is on Disc 1 of the 2 CD set. In addition to these large-scale efforts, Cave and Ellis have also contributed a resonant musical dimension to a pair of lesser known, but striking documentaries, represented on Disc 2.

In 2007, Cave and Ellis scored Geoffrey Smith’s harrowing The English Surgeon, a film tracing Dr. Henry Marsh’s struggle to bring neurosurgery to post-Soviet Ukraine. Amplifying the enterprising doctor’s frustrations and anxieties, his practical genius and ethical dread, the music sighs and whines like the surgical instruments Dr. Marsh shanghais from the NHS. The Girls of Phnom Penh (2009), Matthew Watson’s film investigating Cambodia’s “virginity trade”, describes a sorority of three young sex workers, struggling with degradation and poverty against Cave and Ellis’ urgent sound-scape of humid loops, serrated cymbals and geysers of steam.

Accompanying the soundtracks on the second disc are four pieces drawn from the Cave & Ellis archives, all named after craters: “Magma” is constructed from a chorus of Warren's singing a pitch-shifted riff, “Zanstra” swarms like a storm of hornets besieging a submarine, “Halo” finds pastoral calm in the eager teeth of defeat and “Daedalus” rises sure as the sun, with dewy flute and fluttering piano motes, before a sudden fade. The sequence is conceived as a suite. “Listen to it as you might listen to an instrumental album” recommends Ellis, as “some kind of trip”.

The tracklisting for the album is as follows:

CD 1
1. Song For Jesse
2. Moving On
3. What Must Be Done
4. Song For Bob
5. Happy Land
6. The Proposition 1
7. The Road To Banyon
8. The Rider 2
9. Martha's Dream
10. Gun Thing
11. The Rider Song
12. The Road
13. The Mother
14. The Father
15. The Beach
16. The Journey
17. The Boy

CD 2
1. Srey Leak        
2. Me Nea                       
3. Rom        
4. Halo         
5. Zanstra                         
6. Black Silk (Suture)        
7. Brain Retractor             
8. Dandy Brain Cannula    
9. Rat’s Tooth Forceps             
10. Kerrison’s Punch                 
11. Micro Sucker                                            
12. Window                      
13. Daedalus         
14. Magma            
15. Cheata                       
16. Sorya Market

CD1 Tracks 1-4: from The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
CD1 Tracks 5-11: from The Proposition. 
CD1 Tracks 12-17: from The Road. 

CD2 Tracks 1-3, 12, 15, 16: from  The Girls of Phnom Penh.
CD2 Tracks 6-11: from The English Surgeon. 
CD2 Tracks 4-5 & 13-14: from The Vaults.


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