All-Star Music

February 1997

Lost Highway

allstar rating: 8

When Trent Reznor produced the soundtrack to 1994's Natural Born Killers, he linked together a startling assortment of artists ranging from L7 to Bob Dylan, Patsy Cline to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and wove them into the very fabric of the movie. Just as he captured the flashy overstatement of Oliver Stone's cinematic style, Reznor has seen to it that the soundtrack for David Lynch's latest is fraught with all the surreal, delectably creepy ambience we've come to expect from the man responsible for Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks.

Nearly a third of the tracks are by Lynch's longtime cohort, Angelo Badalamenti, and his dark, dreamy compositions bind the soundtrack together -- no small feat, considering the strange cast of supporting characters. Reznor -- solo -- dabbles in ambient soundscapes ("Videodrones; Questions"), then tempers the familiar grind of Nine Inch Nails with a techno edge ("The Perfect Drug"). Also techno- vated are (yes, really) the Smashing Pumpkins, stirring up fond memories of '80s synth- pop masters like Yaz and Blancmange with their contribution, "Eye."

Lou Reed, sounding oddly enough like a neurotic Johnny Cash, veers off the urban asphalt path and into rustic territory with an earthy, slightly twangy cover of old friend Doc Pomus's "This Magic Moment." Marilyn Manson is predictably gritty and perverse, giving Screamin' Jay Hawkins' classic "I Put a Spell on You" a devious post- Alice Cooper twist. Jazzy interludes scattered throughout run from cool and breezy to sultry and swinging with a couple downright torrid bebop outbursts in between; Badalamenti's "Red Bats with Teeth" does it all in one swell swoop.

The sonic trek winds to a close right where it began, with the suave brooding of David Bowie's "I'm Deranged." Lost Highway certainly covers some wild and varied terrain, but thanks to Reznor's savvy ear it never veers off track.

By Sandy Masuo

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Nine Inch Nails
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This article is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously located at SUS.