Howard SHORE (b.1946)
9pm [3:17], Midnight [2:45], 3am [3:14], 6am [2:30] (from After Hours) (1985)
Espresso [3:14]
Macchiato [3:59]
Robusta [2:39]
Unknown Track 8 [5:07]
Decaf [5:12]
Instant [5:19] Turkish
Cream and Sugar [2:41]
Heaven (from Heaven) (1987) [4:10]
Orchestra/Howard Shore
rec. details not given. DDD
HOWE RECORDS HWR 1003 [44:12]
Howard Shore will be known to many as a composer of music for film, especially those of David Cronenberg – he’s scored all but one of Cronenberg’s films since 1979 and has even written an opera based on his film The Fly, which was premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris in 2008. He’s also scored The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This disk calls itself “Collector’s Edition Volume 1”, and the meagre notes tell us that this, “… is the first in a series highlighting rare, out of print or previously unreleased music from the archives of Howard Shore.” The first four tracks are cues not used in Martin Scorsese’s film After Hours. Heaven is a previously unreleased track from Shore’s music for Diane Keaton’s film of the same name. The other items we shall come to in due course.
The four unused cues for After Hours are eerie and very atmospheric, but almost the entire length of each piece is covered by the sound of a clock ticking. Whilst watching a film with this music playing there would be no problem but when listening to it in the silence of ones own home it does become rather wearing. I was heartily sick of the sound by the end of the fourth piece, especially as the ticking wasn’t essential to the flow of the music. The excerpt from Heaven is choral with electronic backing. These five pieces are very attractive and most approachable.
The other, coffee-inspired, pieces are a different matter. Espresso employs bongos and has a delightfully comic walking bass and zany harmonica tune. This made me laugh out loud. Macchiato has a beautiful guitar cantilena over a background of strings and harp. It’s rather like Jerry Goldsmith in one of his fairy fantasy moods. Robusta isn’t what you’d think – it’s another meditation and it’s not the kind of cup which you need on some mornings. Unknown Track 8 isn’t listed on the inlay on rear inlay, I only found it when its name appeared on the screen on my CD player. It’s a bit of what, I suppose, is cool jazz but it’s more like the following track – Decaf, which sounds like an adolescent love scene. The next track is called Turkish, if you believe the inlay card, or Instant as listed on the CD display screen. It’s a bit of both really. Cream and Sugar is another guitar and harmonica cantilena.
All these pieces are very nice and they pass the time pleasantly but Shore has written better than this. I am too often reminded of music by Jerry Goldsmith and Mike Post – the harmonica in particular conjures up the feeling of Post’s wonderful title music for The Rockford Files slowed down and saddened. Ultimately, I really don’t care about any of this music.
I wonder who this CD is aimed at. I honestly cannot imagine anyone, other than Shore’s die–hard fans, really wanting it. The music isn’t particularly good, there’s nothing to grab the attention and it’s really all the same. The recording is excellent but the notes are so scant as to be almost non-existent. Also, at 44 minutes this is poor value. Thanks, but no thanks.

Bob Briggs
Thanks, but no thanks … see Full Review