Album Review: Inherent Vice Soundtrack by Johnny Greenwood

Inherent ViceArtist: Johnny Greenwood

Album: Inherent Vice Soundtrack

Album Reviewer: Michael Mariscal

Rating: 3

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Writing a review for a soundtrack is no easy task.  To listen to it with the expectations of an album is unfair, as the music is created to be heard behind a movie.  The transitions and overall flow between songs is created through visuals and dialogue, rarely in the music itself.  Which makes the CD form inevitably clunky and awkward no matter how they choose to arrange the songs.
Fortunately, the soundtrack for Inherent Vice has high quality music to help compensate for what it lacks on a traditional album standard.  Led by Jonny Greenwood (member of Radiohead and thus the reason I chose to listen to a soundtrack), the music is certainly up to par.  Most of the soundtrack consists of Greenwood’s arrangements.  Reflecting the diversity in Greenwood’s portfolio (he’s a composer well versed in music theory in addition to creating dissonance in an already dissonant rock band), these pieces use strings as well as surf-guitar and interesting electronics.  And though this results in awkward transitions and song placement, it creates an incredible range in the music unique to a typical album that keeps the listener engaged throughout.
Then again, perhaps it’s more fitting to see a soundtrack as what it really is: a collection of bits and pieces of music, one not necessarily related to another.  In this soundtrack, the only common background shared in the songs is really the time-period they were created or selected for: the 70’s.  And an entire decade of sound, mixed with orchestral arrangements that really aren’t attached to the time period, is hardly a common denominator.  So again, the bits and pieces become tangled and diverse.
But there are certainly some tracks that deserve a space on your Ipod.  Spooks, an unreleased Radiohead track reworked for the movie, has a guitar line and improvisational feel that beg for the voice over it’s given.  Adrian Prussia, an orchestral piece, has a haunting building rhythm that when led into a metallic synth part, makes for a very interesting track.  Overall, the album is worth a listen.  I give it a 3.

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