The soundtracks to director Wim Wenders' films have a reputation for being more enjoyable and coherent than the films themselves. While it's not a perfect, mind-blowing whole like the Until the End of the World soundtrack, this one is no exception. The music here falls into four distinct categories. There's a string of edgy instrumentals that complement the noir-ish atmosphere of the movie, courtesy of Ry Cooder (who wrote the score), DJ Shadow, Medeski, Martin & Wood, the Latin Playboys, and Howie B. A pair of fun, traditional-sounding Latin numbers from the Mavericks' Raul Malo and Los Lobos reflects the film's Los Angeles setting. Of the maudlin college radio acts on hand, the Eels carry the day. Their moth's-wing-fragile "Bad News" mops the floor with draggy contributions from Spain and Whiskeytown. That leaves the big star turns. U2's collaboration with Sinead O'Connor is spare and spooky; it pushes the millennial tension of the Pop album to its logical limits and beyond. Tom Waits' "Little Drop of Poison" finds him in cracked cabaret mode, doing what he does best: muttering surreal pearls of wisdom ("a rat always knows when he's in with weasels") and playing every instrument with sloppy relish. Michael Stipe's duet with Vic Chesnutt is a bit of a letdown, a listless ramble set to acoustic guitar. The album's high point is the posthumous appearance of Roy Orbison. Brian Eno provides the tasteful backdrop to one of Orbison's most majestically miserable songs and most deliriously emotive vocal performances. The recovery of this lost treasure is worth the price of admission all by itself, and reason enough for Wim Wenders to have made The End of Violence.
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AllMusic Review by Daniel Browne