Mike Patton composed and performed the original soundtrack to the 2009 movie Crank: High Voltage.
Composed by Mike Patton, Crank: High Voltage is the score to the film of the same name starring Jason Statham. The soundtrack was released in 2009 on the Lakeshore record label.
In genre, it is mostly hard electronica with elements of heavy metal and punk rock. The movie Crank: High Voltage was also released in 2009 and is the sequel to the 2006 movie Crank, also with Jason Statham in the lead role. Written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the sequel movie follows ex-hitman Chev Chelios (Statham) as he hunts down the Chinese mobster who has stolen his heart and replaced it with a machine that shuts down if it’s not regularly juiced up with electric shocks.
Patton composed a supercharged soundtrack to accompany the action of the film, in a work which is sparser than his usual output. As he explains in a special interview about the soundtrack, Patton chose to create music that would ‘take a backseat’ to the cinematic events, thereby ‘giving them air’. He used a variety of instruments to produce the high-tempo electronic soundscapes featured on the album, raiding his personal collection of circuit-bending instruments and toys, many of them as cheap as Fisher Price goods, ‘that make peculiar sounds’.
It was recorded at Vulcan Studios in San Francisco and Hanover House in Los Angeles. The album was published by Rose Mountain Songs (ASCAP) and Mal Di Gola. It was mastered at DNA Mastering in Studio City, California. The album is 54 minutes and 58 seconds long, contains 32 tracks.
Vinyl Release – 2017
On the 21st of July, 2017, a vinyl version of the soundtrack was released by Enjoy the Ride Records in conjunction with Lakeshore records. The vinyl had a limited run of 1,000 pressings in three colours. The first of 150 was Yellow and Black with yellow splattering, the second 350 was Clear and Black also with yellow splattering, and the remaining 500 were the plain yellow retail version.
This first track very fast and percussive, including strange vocal work and the strings mimicry of a synth. We are straight into the high-speed drama of the movie, as Patton’s characteristic roar announces.
A steady bass-line accompanies a strange melody on what may be a harp and is then interrupted by distorted heavy metal.
Vocal samples from electronic voice machines saying ‘what the hell are you talking about’ in a variety of pitches interplay with clapping percussion and Patton’s majestic nonverbal singing. A reference to cream occurs with an audio sample at the end of this track, probably taken from a TV ad.
Patton creates a thick, ambient soundscape on this track, the title of which refers to the film’s implausible premise.
This short, goofball track goes at a breakneck pace before coming to a sudden, anticlimactic halt.
On this track, Patton uses keyboards to create something quirky and funky over a hip hop beat.
Patton references his hero the composer Ennio Morricone in this Mexican-themed track, including a whimsical accordion polka section.
This extremely fast, driving track is one of the more noise-influenced on the album, featuring Patton’s famous grunting vocals.
Electronic bleeps from Patton’s collection of toys combine with synthesised string orchestration in a slower, more dramatic track. The electronic noises create an appropriate soundscape for the theme—Chelios’ heart surgery.
This is a heavier track; it’s driving action music that features Patton’s singing and creates a headbanging atmosphere.
Odd mouth-popping noises and sounds like fingers clicking combined with a riff on strings in this short, bizarre piece.
Rumbling percussion begins this track, ‘Chevzilla’, which appropriately creates sound effects like the lumbering of a giant monster in some subterranean environment. TARDIS-type electronic sounds combine with a foreboding chromaticism to add to the monstrous effect.
The Hammer Drops
Frightful vocals from Patton—his characteristic tense breathing, almost hyperventilation, is joined by mysterious melodic work on a Theremin or Theremin-type instrument.
Patton samples a rather stereotypical inflection of Japanese styles in this rather themed track, featuring harp and gong.
Shock & Shootout
Extremely fast tempo electric guitar and banging cymbals feature on this hardcore track, with heavy overdriven guitars and strange, screwdriver-like sound effects.
A set of very strange sounds make up this eerily whimsical track, ‘Verona’.
Car Park Throwdown
Patton combines very fast, distorted electric guitar with the strange sounds of electronic toys.
The shortest track on the score, this goofball work sounds like a sitcom soundtrack and is an interesting dash of colour, out of character with the rest of the album.
A repetitive, hard electronic track.
This very fast, indeed, the supercharged track comes with Chipmunk like vocals shouting ‘woo-hoo!’
Patton again samples the oriental flavours of LA for this track.
Full Body Tourettes
A chaotic, sharp slab of very fast percussion befitting its title.
Epilogue – In My Dreams
This longer track begins with an ambient bass drone. Its distorted guitar chords accompany strange, scraping percussive elements and treble chimes. Its spare, electronic melody hangs against a gritty, deep background hum.
The ominous sound of a bell tolling accompanies effects of rustling papers or leaves in the roaring wind in this creative Patton soundscape.
“Husky” Höskulds mixed the album and Brian McNelis was the executive soundtrack producer. Mike Patton was the composer as well as providing audio production and mixing. Skip Williamson was also an executive soundtrack producer on the album.
Joe Chavez designed the layout. Richard Devine did the programming. Stephanie Mente was the art director.
Crank: High Voltage was awarded three and a half stars by the critic William Ruhlmann at All Music. Ruhlmann notes the tracks are mostly at ‘breakneck tempos…but Patton slows down here and there to savor the ethnic flavours of L.A.’ He praises Patton for providing music that enhances the intense ride of this over-the-top action flick.
Summer Suzuki’s review at Fandomania suggests that those uninterested in the movie will have little interest in the score, which ‘electrifies, hammers, and sizzles with the energy of the film’s subject matter’. She celebrates the album for how hardcore it is, ‘like distilled schizophrenia on audio format’, a thrilling combination of genres on 32 short, themed tracks.
Finn White at IGN also praises the variety of genres Patton employs, which ‘boggles the mind’, but similarly suggests that it is not an album to listen to on its own—that the music works best as a film score rather than a standalone work.