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Sin City (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Graeme Revell, John Debney & Robert Rodriguez

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Album Review

Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's eye-popping adaptation of Miller's noir comic Sin City boasts an equally gritty, stylized score to match its visual flair. As with all of Rodriguez's films, he was actively involved in Sin City's music, writing a fair chunk of the score himself and turning to two of his frequent collaborators, Graeme Revell (who worked with Rodriguez on the From Dusk 'Til Dawn soundtrack) and John Debney (who contributed to the Spy Kids 1 and 2 scores), to work on the rest, with and without him. Rodriguez scored most of Sin City's Hartigan (Bruce Willis) storyline, aka "That Yellow Bastard" to fans of the comic, and his "Sin City" theme sets the tone for the rest of the score: it's down and dirty, like the "Peter Gunn" theme gone to hell, with a beautifully ugly sax sound that adds a glamorously nasty edge to the piece (and everywhere else it pops up). Revell scored the Marv storyline, which comes from the first Sin City comic, and Debney's score revolves around the Dwight/Miho story originally known as "The Big Fat Kill." All three parts of the score blend jazz, spy, and especially film noir soundtrack elements with subtle rock and electronic touches; though they work well as a whole, there's something to be said for each of the composers' individual approaches as well. Revell's tracks are the most percussive and electronic; there's an almost industrial bent to the drums on "Marv" and "Bury the Hatchet." "Her Name Is Goldie" and "Goldie's Dead," meanwhile, concentrate on the haunting flute and vocal motifs that collide with Revell's edgier sounds on "The Hard Goodbye." Despite Sin City's stylishness, it's still fairly restrained; Rodriguez, Revell, and Debney know when to pull back from going too over the top. This is especially true of Debney's pieces, which are the closest to traditional noir film music in the score. Along with reflecting the bleak, harsh aspects of the story, tracks like "Dwight" and "Warrior Woman" also capture Sin City's very real undercurrents of sorrow: the string parts move from eerie to bittersweet, and the horns go from dangerously taut to brooding, particularly on "The Big Fat Kill," which is sad, angry, and violent all at once. Rodriguez's pieces are some of the showiest and most evocative, ranging from "Prison Cell," which sounds like sinking into darkness, to the theatrical evil of "That Yellow Bastard." "Sin City End Titles" is a bigger and badder reprise of the film's theme with a more rock-based arrangement and more than a little bit of a wink in its delivery. The soundtrack also includes two non-score tracks. Fluke's "Absurd" has a more "modern," big beat/rock sound than the rest of the album, but it feels oddly dated and out of place compared to the more timeless-sounding music that surrounds it. However, "Sensemaya," a 1976 piece from Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas, is right in keeping with the score's elegant menace; it's easy to hear why Rodriguez says in the album's liner notes that this piece was a big influence on him. A wonderful update of film noir music traditions, the soundtrack remains faithful to that basic sound, but not too faithful to inject some fresh ideas into it. Along with The Incredibles, Sin City is one of the most stylish and entertaining — not to mention effective — scores in recent memory.

Biography

Born: 23 October 1955 in Auckland, New Zealand

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Coming into the public eye with his brooding score for the 1989 Australian film Dead Calm, composer Graeme Revell has gone on to score films for directors such as John Woo, Wim Wenders, Robert Rodriguez, Ted Demme, and Michael Mann. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1955, Revell graduated from the University of Auckland with degrees in economics and politics. His skills as a classically trained pianist assisted him as a member of the experimental industrial rock group SPK. Cinematic theatrics were...
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Sin City (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Graeme Revell
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