If it's tough for an artist to create an album that manages to push your emotional buttons and still sound good at the same time, imagine how doubly difficult soundtrack producers have it: In the theater, their product needs to mirror the sentiment of its accompanying film. And when it's then released in album format, the music should produce in its listeners something of a Pavlovian response; if the movie made you laugh and cry, in other words, so should the songs.
With the soundtrack to Murderball, a documentary about the U.S. Paraplegic Rugby Team and its pursuit of the gold in the Paralympic Games in Greece, composer Jamie Saft succeeds quite easily on all fronts. Adrenaline-packed hard rock by Ministry and by Saft himself is woven seamlessly with the eccentric and the often odd: Ween's twitchy electronica, Sam Prekop's coma-inducing pop, and the childlike sweetness of The Moldy Peaches and The Polyphonic Spree.
But probably the disc's strongest element -- aside from the fact that it allows us to experience the mental and emotional complexities of wheelchair rugby players, which in itself is a fairly impressive feat -- is its ability to stand on its own as a competent mix. I haven't seen Murderball myself, for instance, but following Saft's creation from beginning to end still elicits in me a strong emotional reflex. And while it's true that a few of these songs have been played to death, as a complete package the product manages to turn them all into something wholly new. Just like a perfect mix from a best friend, you might say, but with million-dollar production and much better-looking cover art.