I don’t know what it was about the 90’s, but I can think offhand of several movies that tried to be edgy and hip that had far better soundtracks than they deserved (and the movies sucked). Most notable to me were Hackers (for having Angelina Jolie), Mortal Kombat, and Cool World. In the former case I still regularly cue up “Connected” by Stereo MC’s, and “Voodoo People” by the Prodigy (incidentally, 2 Cellos has an interesting cover). Mortal Kombat wasn’t as bad a movie as panned, but had an outstanding soundtrack that was damn near a Wax Trax showcase and has my absolute favorite mix of “Juke Joint Jezebel” by KMFDM.
In the latter – it’s an interesting snapshot of the state of industrial and techno.
The opener is the fairly chill “Real Cool World”, with David Bowie doing what he does best – skillfully invading yet another genre and putting his own stamp on it. It’s danceable and laid back. It may not stand out for the ages, but it certainly aged well.
Next, “Play With Me.” If you only remember them for songs like “Hold Me Now”, this piece has a far more driving beat while still incorporating a fairly dreamy soundscape. It’s a full on dance/club track and not a pop song.
“Disappointed,” by Electronic comes across as yet another Pet Shop Boys song due to some very familiar voices.
“Papua New Guinea” is not a dance piece at all but an atmospheric, dreamy piece of electronica.
Then comes the change in tone. “N.W.O” by Ministry, which also appeared on Psalm 69 the same year. Full blown industrial, Ministry guitar and noises that will make any fan of “Jesus Built My Hotrod” (my favorite) or The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste happy.
“The Witch” by the Cult is more a groovy piece than flat out high-energy rock in the vein of “Fire Woman.”
Up to this point “N.W.O.” was the first truly driven piece as the rest fit the moniker “Cool” in being laid back. The next is my favorite track on the album, “Sex on Wheelz” by My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult – the band most easily described to most outside of the industrial scene as “that one playing in the Crow when he tore up a room full of gunmen”. I love the baseline to this song.
“Ah-Ah” and “Next is the E” by Moby are far more in line with his earlier music, and other popular dance tracks of the era like “Cubik” by 808 state, than his later and far more popular Play and 18. Very heavy, very electronic, very driven beat.
Sandwiched between them is the very low-key electronic dance piece “Mindless”
Next, “Do That Thang”, trying to be the anthemic club track. Not bad, but not a band I ever heard of at the local Orlando clubs circa 1992 unlike Ministry, Thrill Kill Cult, NIN, LL Cool J, Dee-Lite, or the DiVynils, and of course Depeche Mode.
“Her Sassy Kiss” shows some of the range of the Thrill Kill Cult, and good, but not my favorite track, if more on the “cool” side of the album.
“Greedy” by Pure is, along with N.W.O. is not a dance (you don’t dance to Ministry, you mosh) piece. Guitar-based and very atmospheric.
“Under” by Brian Eno is also an atmospheric, haunting, non-dance piece that hearkens more back to a new-wave sensibility.
Finally, “Industry and Seduction”. Also electronic, and also played for atmosphere than dancing, but more in the sound sample vein than new wave.
All in all the album lives up to “Cool” in tone more than the Moby and Ministry tracks, or “Sex on Wheelz”, even on the majority of danceable music. It’s a decent snapshot of the state of electronica and industrial at the time, with the former in transition.