by Clint Burgess
Vincent Gallo personifies unorthodoxy. The accomplished actor/model/writer/musician/artist/director has become one of few conduits for "pure" art in the last decade. He was a contemporary and friend of famed artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and, at the tender age of 21, an accomplished artist in his own right during the booming New York art scene of the 1980s.
Recordings of Music for Film (Warp Records) is a collection of songs and "other sounds" Gallo recorded for films he was involved in as actor, director or both. The collection spans nearly 20 years and includes beautifully composed pieces fraught with intricately intertwined guitar tracks and Gallo's signature falsetto. Not all of the cuts featured on this album are actually songs. The majority are, as the title suggests, instrumental and make for some interesting combinations of sound, texture and rhythm. There are also complete works bearing more traditional song structures. A glimpse into Gallo's instrumental arsenal reveals an amazing depth and variety of sonic devices, including guitar, bass, clarinet, mellotron and piano, all twisted and shaped into ethereal chunks of mood music. Patient listeners should be able to cull a full spectrum of feeling from what is offered here.
For those familiar with Gallo's filmography, the collection includes eight tracks from the Buffalo 66 soundtrack. This film crowns his career and is an important work musically as well as cinematically. The liner notes are a short autobiography, taking listeners on a nostalgic trip through Gallo's artistic life, offering unique insights into environments and experiences that shaped his vision. The eccentricities revealed here partially explain the music featured on this compilation, but they don't completely define the detached feeling found throughout.
Recordings of Music for Film is not aimed at the general record-buying public and will likely be ignored by the mainstream. It is more a musical snapshot of times and places experienced by the composer -- a mix-tape containing fragments of Gallo's musical history.