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A Small Good ThingSlim Westerns Vol II
By Elizabeth Wells
This release dubs itself ‘a highly evocative soundtrack to an imaginary Western’, which cites as its musical touchstones composers such as Angelo Badalamenti, Ennio Morricone and er, the KLF. It’s a great concept, and whilst I think the album goes beyond the boundaries of what might be considered the Western film soundtrack in its use of contemporary electronic techniques, it definitely evokes some of those half-remembered films you might have watched as a kid, where the main characters, as the press release suggests, were ‘thems what don’t fit in’. The soundtrack conjures up images of lonely prairies, threatening skies; in short the kind of alienating landscape that Western heroes try to assuage through music: violins, a harmonica or an out of tune saloon piano, as on Saloon Dreams. The second track, A Mighty Stillness sounds a doleful male choir, as if to emphasize the essential loneliness of the wandering cowboy (a conceit also played out in many a Hollywood western of the fifties and sixties). There are also snatches of conversation and the repeated refrain of ‘Hey Mister, is this train heading south?’, creating a sense of a journey which takes us across windy plains, into warehouses where plane saws set up their own chorus, and across farmland guarded by suspicious dogs, as on the eerie Night which closes the album. Definitely the kind of listening experience which brings the forces of nature uncomfortably close and reminds the listener of the ‘bare forked’ status of man. Doggone recommended.