Given his history when it comes to soundtracking his movies, it’s perhaps no surprise that Quentin Tarantino’s latest comes complete with an intriguing aural companion (described by the director as “a neat mix of old school songs, spaghetti western soundtrack pieces and some new music”). No Western would be complete without tumbleweed and epic orchestral arrangements, and indeed tracks from the genre’s legends, Morricone and Bacalov impart an authenticity to the score needed for such an adventure. The former’s legendary instrumental scores compliment the latter’s arrangements written for Rocky Roberts and Edda Dell Orso.
Many would believe that to mix rap with Western would be to ratify the end of each. Considering the ludicrous precursor to spaghetti-Western rap, Will Smith’s ‘Wild Wild West’, one could be forgiven for agreeing; yet in true Tarantino fashion, he unites a most adverse set of artists and forms one of the most impressive soundtracks to feature in a film; spaghetti western composer Ennio Morricone, R&B singers Anthony Hamilton, John Legend and rapper Rick Ross all appear. Two standout tracks include Rick Ross’ Oscar nominated ‘100 Coffins’ (produced by Foxx) and ‘Unchained’ which fuse 2Pac with James Brown peppering each track with dialogue: “I like the way you die boy”. Hamilton features on ‘Freedom’ alongside the previously unknown Elayna Boynton; perhaps the ‘discovery’ of the album, her smokey vocals dominating and even overpowering the male singer.
Any fan of film will be well aware that the use of music within Tarantino’s film is far more than just atmosphere and the interlacing dialogue (so customary in his work) is just as deliberate as each tracks placement. As much as Django Unchained is a new departure for the director, the soundtrack and movie are quintessentially Quentin. His signature moves are all apparent as is his meticulous arrangement of eclectic music; while the soundtrack doesn’t have its very own ‘Misirlou’ there are enough solid tracks to satisfy.