Carter Burwell – Blood Simple: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Varèse Sarabande

by | Nov 21, 2023 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

This limited edition Record Store Day vinyl release transcends movie scores.

Carter Burwell – Blood Simple: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Varèse Sarabande VSD00514 Deluxe Edition Record Store Day Black Friday 2023 Killer Crimson Marble Vinyl 180-gram stereo vinyl, 34:34 ****1/2:

(Carter Burwell – producer, composer). 

It seems improbable that the Coen Brothers film debut Blood Simple is nearly forty years old. Their vision of film noir, Neo-western and even comedy has reinvented modern cinema. Among their many films are Millers Crossing, No Country For Old Men, Fargo and The Big Lebowski. Many of these movies have been scored by Carter Burwell. Varèse Sarabande has released a limited edition “killer crimson marble vinyl” for Record Store Day Black Friday 2023. This was the first Coen Brothers Burwell collaboration and includes moments from the original score, plus six bonus tracks and three extended cues.

Burwell is adept at capturing the atmospheric, quirky and at times menacing images of this movie effectively on synthesizer and piano. Side One opens with the threatening, jagged “Crash And Burn”. It is unsettling and asymmetrical. The main theme begins with a moody piano chord pattern set against subtle percussion. A lyrical melody is a nice counterpoint to the   moodiness. This hypnotic essence would become a staple of Burwell scores. “Chain Gang” is another mysterious synth piece with percussion that swells with impending terror including “field gang” vocals. A drum-like recreation of gunshots and unnerving chimes (“Looking At Pictures”)  remind viewers of the connective quality of music to film. He intermingles synth and piano on “The March” with sinister motifs and melodic synth lines.

The sampling of Balinese vocals and gamelan percussion infuses “Monkey Chant” with nightmarish resonance. More dark imagery can be found on the doom-portending “Noise Burn”. There is a  reprise of the piano-driven theme (“Blood Simpler”). Burwell is especially skilled at mirroring the unrelenting tension of this movie. One of the most pivotal scenes, “The Shooting” utilizes a hushed synthesizer to maintain the gut-wrenching suspense, while “Abby Scampers” depends on percussion with staccato accents. “Empty Bar” changes the feel slightly with sustained piano chording and understated right hand flourishes. After a brief interlude (“If I See Him”), the album closes with a surprising circus-like swaying cover of Vangelis’ “Chariots Of Fire”. It has a looser feel than the other tracks, and establishes another texture to the soundtrack.

This Varèse Sarabande Record Score Day release is a fine example of a composer embracing the mood and aura of a film. The music is visceral and evocative of the different scenes. Even with occasional sampling, the score is not derivative. In addition to  the eye-popping marble vinyl, there are very insightful liner notes by Daniel Schweiger, detailing several “inside” anecdotal references. 

—Robbie Gerson

Carter Burwell – Blood Simple

Side One: Crash And Burn; Blood Simple; Chain Gang; Looking At Pictures; The March

Side Two: Monkey Chant; Noise Burn; Blood Simpler; The Shooting; Abby Scampers; Empty Bar; If I See Him; Chariots.   

More information through Record Store Day

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Album Cover for Carter Burwell, Blood SImple Soundtrack

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