Fargo (1996 Film)/Barton Fink (1991 Film)

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This disc combines two of Carter Burwell's best soundtrack efforts for the Coen brothers, Fargo and Barton Fink. It's a study of contrasts: Fargo is filled with somber string arrangements and a full orchestra playing in minor keys. Barton Fink, meanwhile, sounds more adventurous with offbeat instrumentation (a very gamelan-sounding keyboard prevails) and a simple score that Burwell recycles into different arrangements. Fargo, especially, sounds dark and reserved--"The Ozone" and "Chewing on It" are both underlined by melancholy--while Barton Fink is just as lyrical but more mysterious. Many of these tracks are short--the two soundtracks together add up to less than 45 minutes of music--but all are poignant, and some of Burwell's best. --Jason Verlinde

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