Various Artists, "The Man With the Iron Fists" soundtrack (Soul Temple Records/STAX/RED Distribution)
One can't blame RZA for assembling an A-list roster for the soundtrack of his directorial debut, "The Man With the Iron Fists." Kanye West, The Black Keys, Pusha T, Corinne Bailey Rae and his Wu-Tang Clan bandmates Ghostface Killah and Method Man guest star on this 15-track gem, with some of the songs reorchestrated picks from Wu-Tang's back catalog. With more than a decade of producing soundtracks under his (black) belt, RZA uses a deft hand to create a homogeneous yet distinctive sound for a cross-cultural martial arts period film that sees him acting opposite Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu.
There's tension within the songs, there is emotion and nuance in sound, a bit like a full-scale assault on one's imagination. Call it a friendly takeover. Songs like "Rivers of Blood," "Built for This" and "Tick, Tock" walk a fine line between atmospheric Western tunes and steam punk hip-hop. RZA and Flatbush Zombies' "Just Blowin' in the Wind" is disturbing in the way its deconstructed sound hisses threateningly, but the eerie-sound song is still a winner. "White Dress" finds West rapping with auto-tune about a damsel closely resembling his own girlfriend, and it's the album's only misstep.
RZA's works have always had a distinctive cinematic quality, but this record digs for iron and comes up with gold. It's kinetic, mesmeric and chimeric.
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