Boomkat Product Review:
First ever official vinyl reissue of Neil Young’s beyond-classic 1996 soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's 'Dead Man' - a mesmerising exercise in tightly controlled improvisation mostly made up of solo electric guitar interspersed with organ, piano, field recordings and excerpts of Johnny Depp reciting William Blake. Sounds awful - we know - but actually a uniquely gripping, inspired piece of work - one of the great soundtracks of the late 20th century.
Vague recollections of the film and its fever-dream topographies are most likely responsible for the almost mystical aura that surrounds ‘Dead Man', but Young does much to heighten its bizarre sense of place with a process of recording that was both off the cuff and bursting with inspiration - taking things to almost transcendental dimensions. Young improvised on his electric guitar Old Black in real time as he watched the film in his studio, throwing in bits of dialogue between tracks and - most bizarrely - lots of weird ambient sounds that aren't in the film - including a prominent car engine running in the background - something that makes no sense for a film set in the 19th century.
It all adds to a sense of physical and metaphysical displacement that's connected to but not reliant on any knowledge of the film, running its own sense of fuzzy logic. Musically, it reminds us of everything from John Fahey’s ‘Red Cross’ to the more introspective end of Goran Bregović’s soundtrack work for Emir Kusturica, or even Ry Cooder’s iconic Paris Texas, Bruce Langhorne’s 'The Hired Hand’ and classic Earth playing at the same time as some weird field recordings open on another tab. In other words; just the sort of precious shit we spend our lives digging for.