by Clint Burgess
The incomparable visionary behind the film Buffalo 66 and experimental pieces like "If You Feel Froggy Jump" rises again from seeming obscurity with his greatest work to date. Vincent Gallo is anything but conventional, and to accompany his latest film, The Brown Bunny, he has pulled together an exceptional collection of songs.
Everything Gallo has ever done operates at the fringe of the mainstream. His enigmatic charisma allows him to maintain creative control of his projects, no matter what the outcome. True to form, the avant-garde filmmaker caused an international scandal at the Cannes Film Festival with the debut of The Brown Bunny. (The foreign press apparently wasn't very receptive to a film that was little more than Gallo and his neurosis driving dejectedly cross-country in a van.)
The beauty of this attempt to explore the darkest human emotions is found in the seamless marriage between the visual content and the soundtrack. The compositions found in the film intensify the yearning that main character Bud Clay (played by Gallo) harbors for the loss of the "love of his life." Surreal sounds gradually come to light in this collection of songs. All the selected tracks contribute to the entire work's melancholy atmosphere. Down-tempo moods are the prevalent feel here. But give a listen in the right frame of mind, and the songs yield varying contemplative conclusions. Two of the featured tracks rely heavily on laid-back, jazzy saxophone sounds.
A delicate guitar ballad titled "Milk and Honey," wrapped in a wavering vocal delivery by Jackson C. Frank, encapsulates the heartache of the film. The shining moments of this record, however, belong to John Frusciante. Known for his postured, funky guitar chops with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frusciante's performance in this context is understated and masterful. His five contributions stand alone as the definitive cuts of the soundtrack. Gentle acoustic guitar tracks layered with haunting vocals, though, are just the beginning of the genius found in this compilation. "Dying Song" repeats a mesmerizing instrumental theme laced with angelic harmonizing and projected with raw falsetto vocals. A magnificent effort.
Publication date: 02/26/04