Lost Highway

By JASON ARNOPP for Kerrang! on March 1, 1997

TRENT REZNOR has done it again. Created a film soundtrack which actually bears some relation to the film.

The Nine Inch Nails mastermind's 'Natural Born Killers' album stood severed head and shoulders above the rash of haphazard rock-oriented soundtracks released in 1995. Somewhere along the line, compilers had forgotten the very purpose of soundtrack music: to reflect and enhance the film, not to use it as a selling point for shoddy CDs.

'NBK' was a lovingly stitched noisescape. A continuously flowing journey, it even featured soundbites from the movie. 'Lost Highway' takes the same route, weaving an oppressive chain of music which matches the freaky film-noir shades of this new David Lynch flick.

Thankfully, Reznor has once again cast his own music in star roles. Prefaced by the 44-second 'Videodrones: Questions', 'The Perfect Drug' begins experimentally, like an out-take from 1994's 'The Downward Spiral' album, then kicks loose with one of the catchiest choruses Reznor has spawned since 'Pretty Hate Machine'. It ends stunningly in a storm of tribal drumming.

'Driver Down' is credited simply to Trent Reznor. You may well wonder what the difference there could possibly be between NIN and Reznor compositions, but 'Driver Down's instrumental insanity provides the answer. It begins with the most metallic section the singer has ever put his name to, before entering an indescribable cacophony involving yet more tribal percussion and piano. Hear it to believe it.

That's NIN fans happy. Elsewhere, we have two exclusive tracks from Marilyn Manson. 'Apple Of Sodom' sees the band in sinister, down-paced mode, brilliantly complementing the overall feel of the soundtrack. 'I Put A Spell On You' is a cover of a 1956 tune by Screaming Jay Hawkins, once again subdued by Manson standards.

The Smashing Pumpkins atmospheric 'Eye' seems to herald their promised 'cyber-future'. Using electronic drums, the music sounds vaguely like early Erasure, with Billy Corgan's creepy voice the only Pumpkins mainstay. It's surprisingly good.

The album's rock quota is completed by Rammstein. God knows how they landed slots on this album but they're clearly German, with macabre vocals over simplistic metal chugging. Seeing as David Lynch chose the utterly obsure Powermad for his 'Wild At Heart' soundtrack, Rammstein's inclusion isn't so much of a shock.

David Bowie's perky 'I'm Deranged' is split into halves, which cleverly sandwich the whole album, while Lou Reed's cover of Doc Pomus' 60s classic 'This Magic Moment' is less suitable. Besides Antonio Carlos Jobim's 'Insensatez' (quality supermarket music), the album's remainder comes from soundtrack composers. Angelo Badalamenti co-wrote themes for 'Twin Peaks' and 'Blue Velvet' with Lynch. His material here ranges from insane sax warblings to Pink Panther-esque grooves. Barry Adamson's stuff is less memorable, but appropriately moody.

Ladies and gentlemen, the world's second 'Natural Born Killers' soundtrack.

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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