As the image indicates, this review is about the Music from and Inspired by The Jackal soundtrack of the 1997 action thriller, starring Bruce Willis and Richard Gere. This “discrimination” doesn’t mean that the other album, containing Carter Burwell’s score should be disregarded. In fact, some of the tracks from there would fit inconspicuously on this album, Burwell being one of the most versatile film composers of the last two decades. His slick combination of electronica and a traditional score creates the real sonic trademark of the movie. That and, of course, the opening track, Massive Attack’s Superpredators, which sets the tone for the violence that is to follow and creates a memorable title sequence in the process.
From all the other arts, music could best be compared to painting. A painter is able to communicate emotions through the images he creates. Sometimes, these are very complex, filled with all sorts of details, shades and colours and sometimes, they are very simple, just a few lines and yet they are still as strong, if not even more. In this respect, songs are very similar to paintings. Some are multilayered, with all sorts of sounds an instruments filling the sonic space, while others are very minimal, played on one instrument or composed of one melodic episode. The music of Vangelis is a good way of exemplifying this theory. He has plenty of tracks that use dozens of sounds and create an universe which offers something new to discover at every listen, but he also has very simple compositions which are very effective in creating moods.
Ok, so it would be a fallacy to state that Massive Attack scored the italian mob docudrama Gommora, considering that, except for the end titles, the movie doesn’t really have a score, except for some songs, usually playing in clubs or cars. What Massive Attack contributed with is a four and half minutes instrumental entitled Herculaneum, which can be heard throughout the end titles. Still, this is such a Robert Del Naja aka 3D masterpiece that it’s worth a full soundtrack article. It’s also one of the best things about Gommora, the movie being a bit of a study-time (it took me about an hour to understand who’s who and what’s what).
This is not the first time Massive Attack are involved in the movie business and by this I’m not talking about Angel being on the soundtrack of a milion films, but about Unleashed (aka Danny the Dog) which they scored completely. Of course, we are not going to ignore their contribution to such movies like The Jackal (Superpredators is the perfect opening theme for any action flick) and the only reason why Blade 2 would be mentioned on this site in a non-derogatory way is that perfect symbiosis between Massive Attack and Mos Def called I Against I. Just to name a couple…
Herculaneum is one of those scarry songs that Massive Attack indulge in quite often, but this time there is no low beat like in Butterfly Caught or Smalltime Shot Away. The best word that comes in mind, when you are listening to Herculaneum is… boiling. And the feeling is very well in touch with the subject, as many of the characters are boiling and violence is always on the verge of happening. This is a piece of music that you can’t even start to think how it was done. Probably half of the sounds are created by something else than musical instruments or software/samplers. There are some strings which add the horror vibe, but they are mixed with, what I’m pretty sure is, the sound of a screw squeaking and hammers hitting nails. Just to name a couple…
This is new teritorry even for Massive Attack and probably it woun’t be repeated on their future album, but it would surely be fascinating to hear Robert Del Naja going at it again, a soundtrack that is.