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Dead Rat Orchestra

The Guga Hunters of Ness

(Critical Heights / Fire; US: 10 Jul 2012; UK: 9 Jul 2012)

Yes, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Dead Rat Orchestra is a terrible name for a band. All I can think of this that scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy walks through the catacombs filled with rats ... and then I imagine them singing, which sounds like an atonal Tim Burton composition. Not pleasant.


But, if you get the ridiculous and hilarious preconceptions out of your mind, what you will hear on The Guga Hunter of Ness is a lovely, contemplative set of pieces. This soundtrack was commissioned as the sonic backdrop to a BBC documentary of the same name about “the journey of ten men from the community of Ness on the Isle of Lewis as they embark on a traditional hunt for gannets.” Overall, this plays out like a mix of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ score for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and the creaky celloisms of Earth’s latest recordings. The proceedings here aren’t always memorable, but a true landscape emerges from these songs, which is the best thing a soundtrack can ask for.

Rating:

Brice Ezell is the Assistant Editor of PopMatters, where he also reviews music, film, and books, which he has done since 2011. He also is the creator of PopMatters' Notes on Celluloid column, which covers the world of film music. His writing also appears in Sea of Tranquility and Glide Magazine (formerly Hidden Track). His short story, "Belle de Jour", was published in 67 Press' inaugural publication The Salmagundi: An Anthology. You can follow his attempts at wit on Twitter and Tumblr if you're so inclined. He lives in Chicago.


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