We can call the Quentin Tarantino soundtrack a legitimate subgenre of its own now, can’t we? After all, the director has said that he constructs his scripts partly by crafting accompanying mixes. Naturally, Django Unchained, the director’s eighth film, features an accompanying disc constructed of an oddly congruent cross-section of styles that effectively build a narrative arc. It’s also his eighth soundtrack album, and the fourth in a row — preceded by Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004), Death Proof (2007), and Inglourious Basterds (2009) — to prominently feature vintage pieces by the master Italian soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone.
This time around, though, Morricone dominates — as he should, since Django Unchained is a spaghetti-Western homage. And since so much of those films’ mood comes is set by the music, QT borrows heavily as well from vintage soundtracks by Luis Vacalov (the Rocky Roberts-sung theme to 1966′s Django) and Jerry Goldsmith (“Nicaragua,” from 1983′s Under Fire, featuring Pat Metheny). And since Django Unchained is also a Blaxploitation homage (aka a Quentin Tarantino film), it makes room for “Unchained (The Payback/Untouchable),” a no-brainer dead-guy extravaganza between James Brown and 2Pac, and John Legend sounding even more like an old soul singer than usual. It will make your local coffeehouse seem that much livelier.