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Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin) Soundtrack
MUTE 1988

Buy it at Insound!

The Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin) soundtrack isn’t bad at all. The Jurgen Knieper pieces sometimes get a bit ethereal in an Eighties sense - but are ideal for a German movie based on Rilke’s Duino Elegies (Duineser Elegien) - and contain a similar spacial aesthetic which compliments Wenders'. Some spoken parts consisting of Peter Handke's text remain on the album as well. The good stuff confirms Wim Wenders’ excellent taste in music much more than, say, Until the End of the World. There’s a fun Laurent Petitgand track that I swear I once heard at a circus in Budapest. There’s also some fine material by Laurie Anderson, Tuxedomoon, and Crime and the City Solution. But the highlight here is definitely the two Bad Seeds songs. It is impossible to forget “The Carny” if you've heard Your Funeral My Trial – here it functions as an obvious tie-in to the circus performer (in the movie its on her turn table). The plot of the narritive lyrics runs like something that could've been penned by Faulkner if he was hired to script an Irwin Allen disaster flick about a circus caravan gone to hell. The grotesqueries and musical leitmotifs are a bit overcooked. But like the lineage of flood folk songs that Cave referenced with the Bad Seeds superb "Tupelo," there's plenty of water and biblical allusion to save it. Due to all of the overkill of generic circus music and freaks and geeks-themed lyrical material, cinema, poetry, and prose to come since, it doesn't age as well as I remember. But that's not Cave's fault. The song nonetheless possesses undeniable power.

But with no further ado, the reason that I’m writing about this soundtrack at all is the new version of “From Her to Eternity” recorded specifically for the movie. The original, on their first album by the same name, definitely goes down in my book as the second-most-intense Bad Seeds recording I've heard (see the Tender Prey review if you haven’t guessed what’s first). Here, on Kid Congo Powers’ first taped outing with the band, while much of the same nervous energy of the original remains, it’s totally reworked for live rock instrumentation. So while the song as a whole sounds a little less experimental, it drives much harder. Furthermore, this is some of the most unusual and powerful dual electric guitar work you’re likely to find anywhere. If you want a representative moment of the power of the Blixa Bargeld/Kid Congo Powers guitar team , this is the one.

Hear Kid tell you more about the filming of Wings of Desire and the recording of "From Her to Eternity."


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