February 2, 2006

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Various artists, Everything is Illuminated

TVT Soundtrack, 2005

B-

This is a weird album.

Any movie soundtrack is a gamble. You could get Garden State; you could get a bunch of clips from the score with a smattering of featured oldies. Everything Is Illuminated’s CD is somewhere in between, featuring about nine tracks of score, which is pretty, but, you know, not something that will wind up on the iPod.

The movie is about a writer who travels to the Ukraine to look for remnants of his family’s pre-Nazi era past. The music is a mix of instrumentals and what might loosely be called pop/ rock music, all with the tart loveliness of the Eastern European minor-key violin. I heard enough bizarre-yet-captivating vocals while watching the film to entice me in to buying the soundtrack.

The best, and damn near only, vocal track that made it to the CD is “Start Wearing Purple” from Gogol Bordello. It’s the kind of song that hints at vodka-fueled dancing on tables in dimly lit clubs. (Gogol Bordello, by the way, are currently touring with Cake and Tegan & Sara and do play in the general northern-New England area occasionally. They are completely insane live.)

Of the non-song, non-score tracks, the best is a remix of the convoluted-English narration from Ukrainian character Alexander, traditional Eastern European violins and a dance music beat. This track, “Ya-Takoy,” best embodies the movie’s quirky sense of humor, though admittedly it is probably most entertaining to those who actually saw the movie.

Not exactly worth the $16 that most soundtracks sell for, this little collection would be a fun little find at $7 in the used bin.

— Amy Diaz