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Album review: Quentin Tarantino’s The H8ful Eight – Ennio Morricone

Quentin Tarantino’s movies are famous not only for their quality, profanity and level of violence, but also for their fantastic needle-drop soundtracks.  Tarantino’s been very vocal over the years about refusing to give up a little control over his movies by letting a composer write music for them, preferring to find forgotten gems to populate the soundtrack. And his approach gave us many memorable movie moments over the years.

But for his new movie, Tarantino commissioned a brand new score from his idol Ennio Morricone. Morricone is of course famous for his scores to Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns like “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, “A Fistful of Dollars” or “Once Upon a Time in the West”. The director had wanted Morricone to write the score to “Inglorious Basterds” in 2009 but the Italian maestro had turned him down because he felt the production schedule was too short.

Morricone’s score is fantastically moody although it relies too much on a repeated pattern that serves as the building block of most tracks. While I’m sure it works well in the movie (it comes out on December 25th), it makes the listening experience a little redundant. Still, the music has some great moments. It’s nothing new as Morricone is doing a pastiche of himself (I’m sure at Tarantino’s request), but he’s such a master of the genre, having scored more than 500 movies, that you still let the music draw you into its world of desolation and tension.

The H8ful Eight
The H8ful Eight

As is Tarantino’s habit, the tracklist is peppered with dialog for the movie. These tracks show that Tarantino still isn’t over with his fascination with the word “nigger” as it shows up a few times. The dialog is easily programmed out if all you care about is the music though, as they are on their own tracks. “Apple Blossom” by the White Stripes, “Now You’re All Alone” by David Hess (from the “Last House on the Left” soundtrack) and “There Won’t Be Many Coming Home” by Roy Orbison are the lone pop tracks included in the film.

If you loved the movie, or love Morricone, this is an interesting purchase. But it’s not on par with the soundtracks to “Pulp Fiction”, “Reservoir Dogs” or “Kill Bill”.

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