David Sardy – Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

4 out of 5

Label: Madison Gate Records, Inc.

Produced by: Dave Sardy

A ridiculously dense soundtrack for what was mostly seen as a tossed-off film, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is another display of Sardy’s unique composition skills, and has him putting his all into a certainly thematic but varied set of – and here’s the downside – cues.  This is how Sardy has handled his scores thus far: he falls into that camp of composers who does work as incidentals – timed to the flick – and not as extended pieces that be edited for choice moments.  Which, hey, you can’t fault the man for doing his job however it most makes sense to either him or his directors, but soundtracks of this nature are tough listens because they’re mostly just tastes of tunes.  It’s especially frustrating here, though, because Sardy’s doing some really exciting stuff, and it all wraps up in a minute or so.  Sure, there are 41 tracks of those minutes, but he really is scoring the scenes, and if you consider this was a Neveldine / Taylor flick – which means constant cuts and edits – the pacing demands quick shifts.  Meaning that, despite there being a recurring theme, the songs don’t flow from one to the next as an album would, and at about the midway point of the album, I generally get a bit worn on that and have to take a break before the second half.

But I do return.  Because even moreso than his other scores – maybe because the N / T approach encourages experimentation – Sardy really lets loose here with some tweaks and great ideas, his cumulative experience as both a noise rock god in Barkmarket and a seasoned producer leading him to making some awesomely organized chaos on some tracks, where the typical hero string intro sounds like its being played on junkyard instruments, guitars and keys winding through and held for extra notes where most composers would be scared to add them.  And then god bless those occasions where the drums break through, crisp and brash.  The odd piano or who-knows-what effect is expertly dotted on just a single track here and there, and tracks that you know would be throwaways on other scores – pat emotional moments – always have some extra level to them in Sardy’s hands.

From the first track’s layered approach, you’re already surprised that someone put this much effort into the Ghost Rider soundtrack, and the fact that such efforts are maintained througout…

Again, undeniably, the short burst style doesn’t make this the most appealing casual listen.  It’s best for a few tracks, listen elsewhere, come back for a few more, etcetera.  And though I’m not knocking it off a star exactly for that, a consequence is that it’s hard to highlight tracks as standouts – it’s just a lot of exciting moments.  Still, it’s a shame that this was stuck to a movie that was only out for about thirty seconds, and that likely the majority of its appreciators are already Sardy fans.  But this has only restoked the flame I maintain for the man.