Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Anne DUDLEY American History X OST ANGEL 7243 5 56781 2 6 [48:09]  



Score composed, produced, orchestrated, and conducted by Anne Dudley. Just look at those credits! It may seem egregious since it is not usually the case that composers do all the jobs, yet even when they do, many forget or waive the right to have them acknowledged. What occurred to me is that since the success of The Full Monty roused a little controversy over whether it was the songs or the music being congratulated, perhaps here an attempt has been made to make it abundantly clear. The scores are light years apart however.

Before ... Monty only The Crying Game could claim enough international success to have brought Dudley's name to people's attention. Adding the recently released More Monty album, only a very minor portrait of the composer's range is given (each disc featuring scarcely minutes worth of score proper). Here then is the film and score to change that.

Her notes in the booklet state that director Tony Kaye requested a "big and elegiac" soundtrack. The idea being to lift the contemporary tale of a man coming to terms with the shape of events contributing to his life. The result is an enormous sound that often seems to be on a religious epic's scale (cue titles such as "The Path To Redemption" and "Benedictus" reinforce the idea). The drama must be huge - or if not, thanks to Dudley it will be now.

The title cue which assaults the senses immediately is representative of most of what follows. A mysterious low key build-up adds a choir to echoing drum rolls. Already there is an undercurrent of menace before any of the dynamics come to the fore. When they do, the drum rolls peal out a dramatic tattoo to finish on a huge crescendo. Five minutes into the disc, and the listener has already been demanded to sit on edge.

Thematic material from the first cue appears again in the second - "The Assignment", but here the effect is far more melancholy. A lone horn calls out the long line melody of the theme. Some finale flourishes on drum separate this from "Venice Beach". With the sort of shuddering strings associated with creeping about, plus some of the slow pace of the elegy which closes the CD, this is about as subdued or restrained as the album gets. To highlight the contrast. "Playing To Win" follows with a massively dramatic (almost heroic) action fanfare; something that would seem quite appropriate for a superhero or two.

An uncredited orchestra makes for a mostly symphonic sound. Some rather effective electronic samples find their way into the mix occasionally though. "People Look At Me & See My Brother" and "Raiders" both feature an echoing effect as of struck metal. It can also be heard in the Goldsmith Senior portions of bad guy Borg cues in Star Trek: First Contact. Another interesting effect comes in "The Path To Redemption" - a chattering, scurrying sound. The brooding danger of these when coupled with some low end brass is most unsettling.

Amongst the aurally accessible material, there is also time for some crashing atonality. Essentially shock chords one might more regularly associate with the horror genre's need to over emphasise a 'surprise'. An example is the cue "If I Had Testified", which still opens and closes by way of theme and choir. What this all builds towards, is the pay off for the director's request. Dudley describes the last cue thus: "the choir and orchestra finally become one as the words of the 'Benedictus' are sung". This final elegy really is quite marvellous, and rounds off what will be a major discovery to those only familiar with the earlier scores mentioned above.

If taken by it, this reviewer recommends her 1994 score the German animated film Felidae.


Paul Tonks


Paul Tonks

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