Hollywood loves typecasting. In the film world composers are selected
because of what they are known for. Filmmakers aren't likely to
ask them to step outside the sound that the composer is most identified
with or to write about themes that the composer isn't familiar
with. Philip Glass is also an activist who identifies with specific
goals and ideas that he wants his music to be associated with.
Throughout his career the theme of social transformation has figured
prominently. Koyaanisqatsi, Satyagraha and Appomattox
all spring to mind as examples.
also has a longstanding interest in the culture and music
of Brazil. He has been to Rio de Janeiro often throughout
his lifetime and has written several works for Brazilian dance
groups and orchestras. These include 12 Pieces for Ballet,
Itaipu, and Days and Nights in Rocinha.
it seems that writing a score for a film about an American
expatriate journalist living in Brazil that quickly becomes
a political thriller about the tumult of political upheaval
is an ideal match. If nothing else, it fits the profile.
same can almost be said of the music. It definitely sounds
like prototypical Philip Glass, though more Glass in reduction.
He borrows heavily from the sound palette of his own early
1980s works, but with the longest piece being just 4:30 this
is not the Glass of old.
Grab harks back to the music of Akhenaten, though without the vocals.
The rest of the pieces sound as if they are outtakes from
Glassworks. The synthesized sounds along with the acoustic
orchestral instruments where they are featured is very nicely
executed, and very familiar to the longstanding Glass fan.
much like those early works, there is little in the way of
hummable melody. The music is a wash of sound for the listener
to bathe in, not a song without words.
the casual Glass fan, or the Glass neophyte, this is an ideal
disc. There is no demand put upon the listener for long musical
structure. The development time for each piece is very short.
As soon as an idea is established the music moves on, much
like a collection of orchestral works from the late Romantic
era. With the recurring melodies, where there are true melodies,
the disc feels much like a minimalist interpretation of Pictures
at an Exhibition. With the entire disc clocking in at
just under 30 minutes, and with the suite consisting of sixteen
orchestral pieces, excluding the song with Suzanne Vega, the
length is even comparable.
final piece, Ignorant Sky, which features Suzanne Vega,
seems to stand apart from the rest of the score. It is performed
using acoustic piano, electric synthesizers, fretless electric
bass, and with both ethnic percussion and a drum set. So the
instrumentation is even different enough noticeably to stand
apart where there is no singing. Vega's performance is quite
good and appropriate to the world music and pop music genres
on which this piece draws, though with obvious sounds derived
from Glass's works.
who would enjoy this disc: the completist who loves Glass,
the casual Philip Glass fan, and fans of modern film scores.
The person who really loves Glass in his Einstein on the
Beach era will have little use for it. Similarly the fans
of Glass's operas may find this to be a little too much on
the light side. There is a place for this recording though,
and it does a fine job of being what it is.
the way, the film was directed by Monique
Gardenberg and starred Henry Czerny.