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Soundtrack review: Bushwick (Aesop Rock – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Bushwick (Aesop Rock – 2017)

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“BUSHWICK” tells the story of twenty-year- old Lucy (Snow) and war veteran Stupe (Bautista). Texas is trying to secede from the U.S., and NYC is being used as a negotiation tool. Lucy meets Stupe after coming up from the subway into the military invasion of Brooklyn. Together they decide to cross the treacherous five blocks of Bushwick – littered with looters, local militias, the invading forces, and one crazy cousin – in order to get home and be reunited with Lucy’s grandmother. The score was written by hip hop artist Aesop Rock and it’s always interesting to see musicians from other genres coming to score movies.

The opening cue “Corner stone” sounds like the laid back instrumental intro to a hip hop album before the vocals kick in. It has an electric guitar undertone beneath a rhythmic whistling motif that could work for suspense. The experiments continue in “Mashed potatoes” where I can hear a DJ board being used alongside a very grungy and much louder electric guitar motif. I am enjoying this as music even if I cannot connect it to the story in the movie or to specific emotions. I am bit confused by this opening of the score. Inserts like “Bushwick mood 1” only add to this feeling.

I am starting to get a 70s musical vibe from this score. The sounds Aesop Rock uses are definitely retro or old school and I remember a lot of 70s movies that sounded like this. “Jaguar” for example with the vocals and the rhythm is pure nostalgia joy. “New Yule” is even better because I can definitely hear some synth sounds in there. The rhythm also makes me think of old movies that took place on the streets of New York, I can almost see Shaft coming or other tough cops. I don’t know if this was the composer’s intention but his improvising and combining of sounds makes me think of a less busy time than now, of less crowded streets and of an entirely different age. Maybe it’s just me but this score sounds like a wonderful retro trip to a time and place that never existed. Some of the cues also make me think of Beastie Boys music, raw and exciting.

“Chesterfield” is downright 80s joy with the Arcade game sounds and the funky rhythm. Maybe I expected a much more aggressive score from Aesop Rock give the story but I am enjoying this much more; the constant funky throwbacks and the electronic sounds give me a very good feeling, it’s a permanent nostalgia not as deep as to affect me but deep enough to matter. I like how the composer took the violent elements of the story and sort of put them in a story, or a musical graffiti instead of exploring the violence with his music; take “Riot riot” for example, it sounds as if it’s viewed through a strange filter as if it was a musical or dancing showdown instead of one with guns.

“Bushwick” is a musical hybrid and experiment that worked for me. Like I said, the retro vibe sealed the deal for me and I am always into scores that bring something new in the way the music is played.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 17 / 41

Album excellence: 42%

Highlights:
Jaguar
New Yule
Chesterfield
Raiders
Sharks and Minnows
The School
Ogres

Tags:
Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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