Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
White Lunar

Release Date: September 22, 2009
Produced by: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
Format: 2CD



Adam Jahnke


Film music compilations often run into two major obstacles.  Since composers can be ridiculously prolific (hello, Ennio Morricone), labels attempt to cram as many examples of their work onto one or two discs as possible.  This means you usually just get the most famous theme from any given movie, which isn’t always the best track.  And since the music has to serve the film first and foremost, you don’t always get an album that holds together as a cohesive listening experience. 

White Lunar, the new double disc collection of soundtrack work by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, avoids both of these pitfalls.  These guys haven’t quit their day jobs with the Bad Seeds to focus on film work, so their collected filmography is relatively small.  Plus, their rock background means they know how to sequence an album.

The first disc focuses on their most well-known soundtracks: The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, The Proposition (for which Cave also wrote the screenplay) and the oft-delayed adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.  I’m guessing that everybody assumed The Road would have been out for quite some time when this album was first planned, so as not to cannibalize sales of the official soundtrack album, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.  The music ranges from melancholy (Jesse James) to ominous (The Proposition) to ominously melancholy (The Road). 

Disc two contains more obscure tracks, including music from a pair of documentaries (The Girls Of Phnom Penh and The English Surgeon) and four unused, unreleased tracks from the Cave/Ellis vaults.  The music here occasionally verges on the ambient, with a bit more of a world music flavor than might be expected.  It’s somewhat reminiscent of Peter Gabriel’s music for the film Rabbit-Proof Fence (released as the album Long Walk Home). 

White Lunar works as both an essential, comprehensive overview of the Cave/Ellis team’s film work and as a moody, low-key, mostly instrumental album.  And while Nick Cave fans should find much to enjoy here, it’s primarily a showcase for the haunting, virtuoso violin playing of Warren Ellis.  Ellis is an extraordinary musician and White Lunar is perhaps the best example of that outside of his work with The Dirty Three.  Like all the best film music, White Lunar unspools a movie in your mind.









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