Apr 25, 2009

CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE music composed by Mike Patton

Mike Patton. Ha-ha....where to start? I could go on forever about this guy, but I'll just keep it simple and say Angel Dust and Disco Volante.
Patton is no stranger to the film industry as of lately, having contributed a song "Bird's Eye" with System Of A Down singer Serj Tankian, composed by Mark Streitenfeld for the Ridley Scott film Body Of Lies, lent his voice talents to the Will Smith film I Am Legend and Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen and sucessfully "scored" a short film called A Perfect Place. Hell, he even replaced Dennis Hopper for a role in the low budget carnival film, Firecracker....stick to your day job, Mike.
So what to do next?
Score a film starring the always entertaining Jason Statham.
I don't care what people say, Statham is a wonderful addition to the entertainment world, with his work on The Transporter series, War, Snatch and The Italian Job (who doesn't want to see Statham work side by side with Seth Green and Mos Def to defeat Edward Norton?). So along comes Crank, a gritty over the top action film co-starring Amy Smart and Dwight Yoakam.
Crank is a movie that really has a simple premise, something like Speed, Statham's character Chev is injected with a poison that forces him to keep his heart rate up or else he dies. Stupid, huh? Well...yes. But it's just so damn fun, you should just sit back forget all your worries for an hour and a half. Now along comes the sequel Crank: High Voltage, (SPOILER ALERT!!!! Chev technically would've died at the end of the first one, but we'll let that slide and enjoy another helping of intense, at times hilarious, testosteroney fun) this time his heart is replaced with a mechanical one that needs to keep getting charged up to keep working or else he dies. Stupider, huh? Well...yes, but adding to Amy Smart and Dwight Yoakam as the cast, Statham brings along Corey Haim, Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell, David Carradine, TOOL's Maynard James Keenan and Linkin Park's Chester Bennington along for the ride....what do you expect? Good Old Ridiculous Fun. That's what.
Now the original film was scored by Underworld composer Paul Haslinger, but ended up being mostly littered with hard rock and punk bands' songs as the background music. The original score did the trick for the first film (only 13 minutes of music was written for the film!), but was a little too serious for the sequel (which by no means could be taken seriously, I mean c'mon! Chev whistles along with the score!)...so Haslinger was dropped and in walks Mike Patton.
With Patton's score to A Perfect Place he obviously lifted from the noirish works of Bernard Herrmann and Henry Mancini, so one would be curious to see what he would do with an action film. It's pretty much a given, Patton would not be using the traditional orchestra for his score, but rather the standard rock band instruments, some electronics and an army of obscure world instruments, used untraditionally.
Kicking off this weird, wild mind-boggling intense trip is "Kickin'" a track that is one of two tracks on the album, that closely resemble a song (Sweet Creem [Redux] being the second). "Kickin'" starts off like a sped up western in space, then in just a few seconds, kicks into a punked up little ditty...something I can only describe as Ministry covering The Pixies' "Nimrod's Son".
"Chelios" sputters along at first sounding like a drunken Secret Chiefs 3 trying to play Morricone, but it quickly gets heavy, now sounding like The Melvins hitting the sauce and trying to play Morricone, it then teeters back and forth between soft and heavy.
"Organ Donor" rolls in rather nicely right at noon...you can almost picture the tumbleweeds passing by with it's bad to the bone attitude.
If things weren't all ready weird enough, along comes "Chickenscratch". It bubbles, it titters, it wobbles, it makes french fries and three different...well...you get the idea.
"Doc Miles" is a welcome little ditty, which echoes something Henry Mancini or Nelson Riddle would write in a true espionage funky fashion. This track is officially now my theme for walking down the street. "Here comes Doc Miles, ladies, watch out....he's really weird".
"El Huron" manages to confuse and delight all together...at one moment it broods and lingers, with it's synthesized woodwinds, but from out of nowhere, a Danny Elfman like Eastern European carnival ride passes by laughing and mocking you, only to fall over in cymbal crashes and broken strings.
"Tourette's Breakdance" blips and bleeps around, like Daft Punk with bad gas, but it doesn't really do much, other than irritate...this is Patton, so it's to be expected.
Rhythmic breaths introduce the Korn-flavored "The Hammer Drops". A track that might actually be a welcome addition to the album for the average score listener, as opposed to the rest of the chaotic, yet structured, noise that populates the larger portion of the album.
"Triad Limo" sticks out as a highlight track for me. With it's stereo-typed Chinese flavoring, posing as the theme for the villians of the film, "Limo" is an interesting listen that it's almost euphoric to my ears.
"Shock & Shootout" is a violent guitar driven piece that would make Slayer proud. It's hard sludgy thrash metal at it's grisliest.
"Pixelvision"...what am I supposed to say about the wonders of a mouth harp? The mouth harp bounces around, as a synthesizer plucks away in the background like a sneaky cat, followed by what sounds like an 80's video game....I love it!
Sounding like it just jumped out of Ocean's Eleven, "Spring Loaded" saunters in, but is suddenly stopped by an ominous gong and heavy percussion, only to be dismissed by this cool cat...he stops for nothing.
"Supercharged" spits and growls like your usual thrash metal, but it can't be taken all that seriously, due to some humourous "Woo-Hoo"s thrown in, which is all too Homer Simpson-ish. It's strange but it works.
Coming off as the longest track on the album at 4:15, "Epilogue/In My Dreams" is a definite album highlight. It teeters back and forth between slow thrash metal and sludgy electronica and ending with noises that will make your cat or dog pack up and leave home.
"Friction" and "Epiphany" finish off the album, played back to back. With "Friction" sounding like the tolling of the Death Bells and finishing off in Texas Chainsaw Massacre ambience, it almost immedietely melds into the sad(?) "Epiphany", which blends a reverberated church organ and awkward vocalizations to perfection.
Patton's Crank: High Voltage will without a doubt anger most film score listeners and rock fans as well, but it will without a doubt find a cosy little home with his rabid fanbase. Whether fans of the Crank films, will hate it, ignore or even notice it, has yet to be seen. Many artsy fans of Patton (and there's alot of them), will probably sneer at the fact that he's scored a Jason Statham film and not something a little more serious or weirder...but they can go to hell with that stick up remaining up their ass. It's a fun score to a fun film. The score album does run at 55 minutes and personally I would have shaved 10 of those minutes off, to make it a little more enjoyable in one sitting...instead, I'll probably find myself skipping a track here and a track there and therefore it gets half a star knicked off it's rating. While as an album, it doesn't live up to most of Patton's other works, it does impress as an addition to his budding film score career...guess we'll have to wait and see what he does with next year's Pinion.

*** 1/2 out of 5