Even within the unpredictable Neil Young discography, this qualifies as one of his most unpredictable efforts. This soundtrack to the Jim Jarmusch film Dead Man is entirely instrumental, with the exception of some poetry read by Johnny Depp (who stars in the film) and a bit of dialogue. What's more, these untitled instrumental passages are dominated by subterranean guitar rumbles that manage to sound both grungy and subdued. Young also takes care to vary his approach a bit, switching occaionally to pump organ, detuned piano, and acoustic guitar. The results not only evoke the hostile, desolate landscapes of the film's Old West, but work on their own terms as ambient mood music for the non-new age crowd, creating an atmosphere of restless disturbance with subtlety and grace. It's not necessarily for the typical Neil Young fan (whoever that might be), but it's certainly one of his most successful experimental efforts.
Dead Man Review
by Richie Unterberger