Vincent Gallo : Recordings Of Music For Film

Maverick director's second album collates his early film soundtracks...

For someone who’s made a career out of a pathological unwillingness to compromise, Vincent Gallo has been remarkably successful. He might describe himself as a “hustler”, but whatever he’s turned his attention to (be it acting, painting, modelling or directing) has tended to end up in triumph.

Music, however, is apparently Gallo‘s real obsession – and is something that’s snaked through his life since he was a teenager. But it was only with the release of ‘When’ (his debut album for Warp, released last year) that this particular talent came to the attention of a wider audience.

That album came as something as a surprise for another reason too. Gentle, confessional and acoustic, it seemed rather at odds with a man whose public persona is so hilariously monstrous (he’s a right wing sympathizer who hates the Spanish and Koreans and a sexual compulsive who used to masturbate 15 times a day, to name just a couple of his more colourful character traits).

This record (a compendium of his soundtrack work for small independent films in the ’80s, including the music he wrote for his own masterpiece Buffalo 66 ten years before it was released) helps make sense of that debut, in the sense that it proves he’s been diligently trying to perfect this sound for at least two decades.

Predominantly instrumental and recorded on vintage equipment, the music here consists of soft, semi-ambient snatches of sound, veering between the beguiling atmospherics of his Buffalo 66 soundtrack through to the more percussive (overwhelmingly post-rock) likes of ‘Sunny And Cloudy’ and the charmingly titled ‘Brown Lung Hollering’. Mostly it just sounds like you’re sitting in a womb waiting to pop out – the only exception coming right at the end with the dissonance of ‘Ass Fucker (Reprise)’.

What becomes most apparent over the course of the 29 tracks is that a) Gallo‘s music is almost as perverse as his own taste in it (he likes Yes, Charles Mingus and jazz singer Anita O’Day) and b) despite its lack of volume, in its own suffocating and obsessive way, it’s just as extreme as anything else he’s ever attempted.

‘Recordings…’ might lacks the obvious brilliance of his movie making, but it’s more than just the dabblings of an enthusiastic amateur. Who knows? Maybe somewhere in here, Gallo‘s finally found his true vocation.

James Oldham