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ALBUM REVIEWS / POP : 'Songs in the Key of X': Suitably Creepy

March 23, 1996|Sandy Masuo

*** 1/2

VARIOUS ARTISTS

"Songs in the Key of X: Music From and Inspired by 'The X-Files' "

Warner Bros.

In keeping with the deliciously creepy TV noir of "The X-Files," this "soundtrack"--assembled by David Was (nee Weiss)--is drenched in unsettling ambience, from the pensive twang of Sheryl Crow's "On the Outside" to the stark rumblings of Danzig's "Deep."

Two experimental tracks pair R.E.M. with William S. Burroughs and Elvis Costello with Brian Eno; the results of both are more interesting in theory than in practice. Other hybrids are more successful. P.M. Dawn remixes the show's theme music into a cool, dreamy dance groove, and Rob Zombie's collaboration with Alice Cooper grinds with a suitably ghoulish allure.

Though Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds' "Red Right Hand" and Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "Frenzy" have been previously released, they sound as if they were made for this setting. The piece de resistance, however, is the Foo Fighters' version of Gary Numan's new wave classic "Down in the Park." Trading in the cold, synthetic feel of the original for a grittier edge, they cast an eerie new light on the alienation/space alien theme of the lyric.

This isn't the first (or last) television soundtrack, but it is one of the few that actually reflects the aesthetic of the show that inspired it rather than just its target audience.

* New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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