The best way of describing my Eric Serra soundtrack collection is to say minimal, well actually its THE BIG BLUE, so as you can imagine I was very surprised to listen to this a western score by the composer and be blown away by his music. BANDIDAS is a cross between, THE LEGEND OF FRENCHIE KING, ALL THE PRETTY HORSES and THEY CALL ME TRINITY with infusions of dramatic sounding material, that could be compared with the HANNIE CAULDER soundtrack by British composer Ken Thorne. A mixture of styles and sounds I know, but a fusion that works wonderfully, and not only supports the movie but is an enriching and rewarding listen away from the film. The score is full to the brim with theme after theme, but not just any ordinary sounding themes, they are haunting, poignant, dramatic and original in their construction and performance. There are many cues that are of a Mexican flavour, with fiesta sounding trumpets, castanet’s and Spanish guitar solos a plenty, Serra treating us to light mariachi sounding cues, which are at times reminiscent to Elmer Bernstein’s Mexican flavoured compositions in the MAGNIFICENT 7 movies, these are more prominent in cues such as, TRAPERAS (track 7), EL CABALLO ATRAS (track 12), the excellent LA ESCUELA DE BILLBUCK (track 13) and the pleasantly haunting COMPANEROS (track 15). The work also has a darker side to it, the composer utilises a fairly large orchestra which is enhanced by synths and driving percussive elements, to relay a sense of the dramatic and create an atmosphere of tension in cues such as NOVIOS EN EL BANCO(track 22) and, ROBODOS (track 23). Then we have yet another side to this score, which is definitely of a spaghetti western nature, lone trumpet compositions, electric guitar passages, female solo voice, and those saloon piano tracks are all here as well. The cues in this mode to check out are, BILLBUCK (track 11), where the composer fuses a dark bass guitar riff with smouldering and shadowy synths. BANDIDAS (track 17), in which Serra gathers the full string section along with brass elements to act as a driving background to a catchy but aggressive sounding guitar rift which is interspersed by an effect that actually sounds like an arrow shooting past ones ear, a delight for any Italian western soundtrack fan. LOS PUEBLO EN LA INGLESIA (track 7) and LEYENDA Y MUERTE (track 29) are also worth more than a fleeting listen. BANDIDAS will be a very welcome addition to any collection, and probably a big surprise for many soundtrack collectors, as Eric Serra is a composer who, I for one thought was a little bland with his musical palette, BANDIDAS has certainly proved me wrong, and changed my opinion of his musical talents. I always thought of Serra as being a composer who employed jazz influenced material in his scores, using a veritable landslide of electronic gadgetry to create his soundtracks, and although the composer does use an array of synthetic sounds within this score, they are not blatantly obvious and are employed with a light and subtle touch, never drowning out or encroaching on the territory of the conventional instrumentation of the work. I think you should definitely check this one out.