Original Soundtrack

Kill Bill, Vol. 1 [Original Soundtrack]

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In its first teaser trailers, when it was still going to be released as a single film, Kill Bill was sold with the immortal teaser "In the year 2003 Uma Thurman is going to Kill Bill." Of course, Uma didn't come close to the messy business of killing Bill until early 2004, when the second part of Quentin Tarantino's grindhouse epic Kill Bill was released, but she sure started to kill in Kill Bill, Vol. 1, where the Bride, the character she created with Tarantino, began her arduous revenge upon the five former colleagues who killed her fiancée at her wedding rehearsal, then left her for dead at the altar. As Tarantino plot lines go, this is the simplest yet, but revenge movies shouldn't be encumbered by deep subtext. Instead, he divided the film into chapters, giving him an opportunity to play with both time and location, and then shoot each chapter as an homage to a different kind of exploitation film -- something that's reflected in the soundtrack. After Nancy Sinatra's torchy "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" and Charlie Feathers' tough, swaggering rockabilly chestnut "That Certain Female" set the story and the mood, the record is devoted primarily to instrumental pieces that range from surging epics to the calm kitsch of Zamfir's "The Lonely Shepherd" to the intense funk pastiche of Tomoyasu Hotei's "Battle Without Honor or Humanity" (the song that kicks off nearly every trailer and ad for Kill Bill). The reduced presence of dialogue from the film -- a hallmark of Tarantino soundtracks -- is a reflection of the film, which places emphasis on action and visuals. Hell, even the tracks on the soundtrack have minimal lyrics, consisting largely of instrumentals. This gives it more of a meandering feeling, and the soundtrack kind of peters out, ending in two quick excerpts of futuristic electro music by Quincy Jones and Neu!, then a gaggle of sound effects and Kung Fu hits. Nevertheless, its cavalcade of contradictory moods has its own coherence, and it's more musical than most pop music soundtracks. Plus, this has no familiar material, nor does it have anything that would be a single on digital radio, which is why it works as an album on its own -- it doesn't just reflect the movie; it follows its own logic, and displays fearless imagination. It makes you hungry for Vol. 2, both the movie and soundtrack.

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