Fans of Richard Thompson’s songwriting might have felt a little deprived of a key aspect of his work on this mid-noughties album, as it was the soundtrack to a Werner Herzog film, and therefore lyrics and vocals from the great man were surplus to requirements.
However, his evocative guitar adds haunting emotional heft to Herzog’s documentary about a bear-obsessed conservationist who is eventually killed by a bear.
Sometimes Thompson’s ruminative finger ticklings, recorded in two days in improvised sessions, don’t seem to add up to much of great substance. But the eerie atmospherics of Ghosts In The Maze and the beautifully mournful, cello-enhanced Parents stand alone as things of beauty, while the echoing growl and twang of the slow-burning title track suggest Mark Knopfler’s most impressionistic work.
The latter passages take a sharp left turn into more cacophonous avant-garde territory, but that reflects the sense of horror central to the film’s decidedly harrowing tale.