Various Artists - Stigmata:
Music from the MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
By Tony BonyataAlthough the soundtrack from the new supernatural thriller Stigmata boasts a rather impressive original score by the Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan and pianist extraordinaire Mike Garson, it's actually a lot more than just music to accompany a film. It's really like two completely different sides of a record - one side filled with atmospheric and mesmerizing instrumental pieces that hold up on their own and the other with more up-to-the-minute alternative rock numbers from cutting-edge newcomers and hip old-timers.
Having studied classical composition at Julliard in his youth and cutting his teeth playing with notable jazz heavyweights in New York Mike Garson made a name for himself in the world of rock when asked to join David Bowie's band on his 1973 Aladdin Sane album. It was his groundbreaking left-field piano solo from the title song from that album that helped fuel the creativity for future rock musicians. He has since worked with other artists such as Seal, Nine Inch Nails and spent the majority of 1998 touring with the Smashing Pumpkins in support of their album Adore.
Corgan has had some previous experience in the soundtrack field scoring half of the music for the film Ransom which starred Mel Gibson. While Corgan's music for that film was mainly guitar-dominated and in-your-face, his contributions with Garson on Stigmata are more reflective and serene yet at the same time hypnotic and demented. Corgan has pitched the heavily treated guitars in favor of keyboards, state-of-the-art electronics and an occasional laid back hip-hop beat. At first blush, it hardly seems a fitting soundtrack for a movie that mixes horror with religion, but by the end of the over forty minutes of Corgan / Garson penned numbers you realize that these weren't meant to scare the begeezuz out of you right away, but rather seep slowly into your psyche, creating an unnerving balance of both serenity and dread.
Pop sensation Natalie Imbruglia adds an ethereal air to the somewhat plodding title song "Identify", also written expressly for the film by Corgan and Garson.
Filling out the rest of the album are remixes exclusive to this album from Chumbawamba on "Mary Mary", a weird mix of punk, techno and Abba, and Bjork whose warm vocals melt through her detached, icy techno on "All Is Full Of Love". David Bowie adds a new number "The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell" from his forthcoming album "hours" which, with it's hard rock edge, sounds more like an outtake from his Tin Machine days then his more recent dabblings into modern electronica.
Although songs from Massive Attack ( the spooky "Inertia Creeps"), Remy Zero ("Gramarye" which borrows heavily from Radiohead) and Afro Celt Sound System featuring Sinead O'Connor ("Release" a number which is filled with African rhythms and eerie Irish reels) have been previously released, they make nice accompaniments to the newer and reworked pieces of modern rock and more subdued compositions from one pianist and a Pumpkin.
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