May 23, 2009

CD Review: Crank - High Voltage, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Mike Patton is one interesting character, and one who has been making more and more in roads into the film world. Or course, he is bringing his musical mastery along with him. Actually, that should probably be more his mastery of sound rather than music, as his talents seem to involve anything that makes sounds or noise. Since the dissolution of Faith No More many years ago, excepting their upcoming reunion shows in Europe, Patton has done nothing but keep bus. He brought his old band Mr. Bungle back for a while, and worked on new projects such as Tomahawk, Fantomas, Peeping Tom, and Mondo Cane, along with countless others. Well, a couple of years ago saw his focus broaden somewhat, bringing the world of film into focus.

In 2007, Mike Patton lent his vocal talents to the film I Am Legend, giving a voice to the zombie/vampire creatures. That same year, he also provided voices for a couple of video games, The Darkness and Portal. He would return to video games again in 2008 working on Left for Dead. 2009 has him turning back to the big screen as the voice of Mixmaster in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

That certainly is a lot of voice work! Fortunately, that is not all he has done. Earlier this year Jason Statham returned to the big screen as Chev Chelios in Crank: High Voltage, the unlikely sequel to the live action cartoon that was Crank. Along with him, Mike Patton came on board to provide the score, taking over for Paul Haslinger, who returned to the Underworld series. This score follows the first film scoring work he did on last year's short A Secret Place.

It is definitely an interesting piece of work. Patton never seems to go about anything with what would at least appear to be a normal approach, everything is attacked from askew. This is a good thing, it allows us a bit more creativity and allow artists to escape the norm and try to break through boundaries of what is normally considered acceptable.

Patton's score for High Voltage is not your standard strings and brass, orchestral score, oh no. Something tells me the orchestra route will be the road less traveled for this particular artist. His work here comes across as something of a cross between a score and a soundtrack. There is a theme that recurs throughout, first appearing in the second track, "Chelios"; however, that is the exception and not the rule. Patton bounces around a variety of approaches based on the needs of the scene.

That said, the score encompasses industrial metal, heavy electronica, world music, and techno as it drills itself into your head. It comes across as schizophrenic as the movie does, always jumping to and fro, never settling in any one area for too long.

Something that is interesting about this album, and scores in general, is that when they are one well, they become more than just background sounds to a film. This becomes a good test for the quality of a score. If it does not work standalone, it is not a good score, it may work for the movie, but a good score does more than that. A good score can take you back to specific scenes and events in the movie. Beyond that, the good ones can transport you to other places in your mind, they can spur your imagination to create new visuals to accompany them. Patton's work here is one of those transporting scores. It is far from my favorite, but it is terribly effective and stands apart from many other scores out there.

Mike Patton performed all of he instruments and did all of the programing for the album. Quite a feat, all adding to his accomplishment. So, when you give this a listen, marvel at his work and be sure to check out such standouts as "Chelios," "Chickenscratch," "Tourettes Romance," "El Huron," "Chevzilla," "Triad Limo," "Pixelvision," and "Epilogue - In My Dreams."



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