What is this growing fascination that aging electronic acts have with film music? Massive Attack took a shot at it a few years back with their soundtrack for “Danny the Dog.” Saint Etienne followed suit with music for “What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day?”. There were even rumors that Radiohead would be scoring the end credits for the upcoming film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s “Choke.” Now it would appear to be UNKLE’s turn. In this case, however, the trip-hop veterans seem to want to make music for a film that hasn’t even been made yet. If End Titles… Stories for Films is any indication, it’s also one that few people would even want to see.
At a sprawling 74 minutes, End Titles could certainly fill a modern indie film’s worth of time. Like any good soundtrack, there are the obligatory instrumentals (12 of them, in fact) punctuated by tracks featuring guest vocals from various collaborators (the most noteworthy being Josh Homme and Canadian rockers Black Mountain). This all sounds good on paper for an intriguing concept album, so why is it that these Stories play more like the soundtrack to some boredom-induced nap than any number of epic films that may play in your mind?
Part of the problem, if not most of it, rests on the shoulders of some uncharacteristically conventional instrumentation. For a group that has broken so much ground in the field of electronica with their compositions, it’s almost insulting to hear the duo try to wring drama out of dated metal guitars and lumbering percussion. The tracks with vocals fare slightly better, but one gets the impression that we have the guest musicians to thank for that rather than the “stars.” The aforementioned Homme manages to evoke some appropriate tension amidst the skittering beats of “Chemical,” and Gavin Clark pulls off some fairly decent Thom Yorke impressions in tracks like “Cut Me Loose” and “Against the Grain.” Of course, whether that was the intention of either Clark or UNKLE is highly questionable. It doesn’t bode well for a project when its most passable moments simply echo someone else’s far superior works.
Perhaps the biggest source of disappointment comes from knowing that UNKLE is so much better than this. Before Stories, we may have even welcomed the idea of a hypothetical film score from these guys. Alas, End Titles too often plays exactly as its title would suggest: a long scrolling list of impressive credentials that too often lacks the substance of the art that preceded it.
End Titles… Stories for Film is currently out digitally via Surrender All and will hit stores on September 2nd.
The complete track listing for End Titles…Stories For Film is:
01. End Titles
02. Cut Me Loose (ft Gavin Clarke)
04. Ghosts (String Reprise)
05. Kaned And Able
06. Blade In The Back (ft Gavin Clarke)
07. Synthetic Water
08. Chemical (ft Josh Homme)
09. Nocturnal (ft Chris Goss, James Petralli and Robbie Furze)
10. Cut Me Loose (String Reprise)
11. Against The Grain (ft Gavin Clarke)
12. Even Balance
13. Trouble In Paradise (Variation On A Theme)
14. Can’t Hurt (ft Gavin Clarke and Joel Cadbury)
15. 24 Frames
16. In A Broken Dream
17. Clouds (ft Black Mountain)
18. Black Mass
19. Open Your Eyes (ft Abel Ferrera)
20. Romeo Void
21. Heaven (ft Gavin Clarke)
22. The Piano Echoes
Written by: Rob Huff