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CD Review: The Devil's Rejects

By Steven A. Kennedy



The Devil's Rejects *** 1/2

TYLER BATES

La-La Land 1035

24 tracks - 59:30

Tyler Bates has had a steady career scoring low-budget films as well as some higher profile comedies. He toured with his band Pet and opened for a number of musical acts, and he has played guitar for the Beastie Boys and Vas -- but all of this has taken a back seat after his decision to focus on film scoring. The Devil's Rejects is Rob Zombie's second feature film. The Firefly family, from 2003's House of 1000 Corpses, returns to bring their own fingerprint to an out-of-control road movie that takes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as its possible "inspiration." The film appeared at Cannes this year with a planned late-July release. Zombie chose a variety of 1970s rock to accompany his picture, using Bates score intermittently. La-La Land presents here what must be most of the original score, used and unused, written for the film.

The opening track is an interesting mix of creepy atmospheric sounds and a ghostly vocal over static harmony. It's similar to Marco Beltrami's approach in genre scores, but with less interest in thematic writing. With ideas ranging from didgeridoo blats to densely packed brass writing to simulated heartbeats, Bates throws in a bit of everything right from the start. A maniacal percussion track follows, presenting the other sound idea in the score. Bates' style of using ambient ideas to create musical threads can still be heard even as this track unfolds. As the disc continues, it's obvious that Bates' score was used to pull action sequences up a notch. For lack of a better analogy, there are times when the score sounds a bit like what would happen if Batman had a bad drug trip. Or, in tracks like "Mama Pulls the Trigger," it is a bit like hearing Scream on steroids. Is this effective in a film like The Devil's Rejects? Absolutely. Unlike many of the new breed of slasher and horror genre scores, this one features many tracks that last longer than a minute. This allows Bates to shape his music and build a scene musically.

After being pummeled for almost 10 minutes, the smooth urban jazz of "Ride the Horse" offers a brief respite from the mayhem. But it's only a fluke in an otherwise demanding and visceral score. The Devil's Rejects is a hard album to sit through, but it's not unrewarding.

Kudos to La-La Land for once again supporting new and rising talent by releasing scores that otherwise would not see the light of day. Hip-O will be releasing a disc of the songs from the film. The score is available from La-La Land's website and select music outlets.     --

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