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CD REVIEW: The Man Who Wasn't There - soundtrack
By Ben Ohmart - 10/23/2001 - 06:51 PM EDT

Artist: The Man Who Wasn't There
Album: soundtrack
CD Review: The new black and white film from Joel and Ethan Coen has a soundtrack brimming with classical music, and original noir pieces. The movie itself deals with infidelity, blackmail, murder and all things stylish to audiences 50 years ago. There are few mysteries made these days; and it only takes a film like this to make us seriously question why the genre has faded.

The mostly piano-based score is rich and vibrant, especially for the Beethoven crowd, as old Ludwig hogs himself a fair share of what’s going on musically, especially the 8th Sonata which figures largely in the film.

There’s also a jazz tune that either doesn’t fit or breaks up the ‘square’ music nicely, putting a 40s flavor into the 14 tracks via something called ‘Nirdlinger’s Swing.’ A big band favorite that comes right before the most depressing instrumental ever invented, in my opinion – Beethoven’s ‘Piano Sonata No. 14.’

So, within the 45 minute soundtrack cd, there’s quite a selection. Plus the intrigue tracks from composer Carter Burwell. He’s the guy behind the music of Gods and Monsters, Fargo and Being John Malkovich. The half the soundtrack that is his is filled with thriller-type piano moods that stalk and sweep through the underbrush.

Quite a good blend in this release – no one field dominates too severely, though there are certainly scares to be had once the lights go off as the disc spins.

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