The practice of using world music against on-screen action seems to be gaining
ground. I was first aware of it when I heard the music for that wretched
film 8mm, now here is music very much of Egypt and the Middle East
somewhat incongruously supporting a film set in America about the evils of
the tobacco industry and a whistle-blower who threatens it. The blurb that
came with my review copy suggests that this music "provides a brooding, emotional
and chilling evocation of the film's real-life drama." Be that as it may
(I have not seen the film yet) but I suggest that the listener forgets any
connection with the film and listen to it detached for its own sake.
If you like music of this orientation you will not be disappointed. The opening
cue 'Tempest' is tempestuous enough; with drums prominent, driving rhythms
and its sultry atmosphere and wailing voices it borders on becoming
hallucinogenic. The second cue, 'Dawn of the Truth' is no less so but its
delivery quieter, yet in crescendo and diminuendo, it creeps up on the listener
even more insidiously. 'Sacrifice' has slow-moving strings supporting a vocal
wailing that has a most eccentric timbre and vocal line to western ears.
With 'The Subordinate' we move with synth poundings and syncopations rather
more towards the western style although Arabian influences persist
into and through 'Exile'. By the time we reach 'The Silencer', the music
has a remote coldness and timelessness that has no specific location, although
the vocal, synthesised to add an appropriate blur, tends to drag the ear
eastwards again. This sense of chill and isolation persisits in the detached
piano chords of 'Broken' supported by long held bass string figures. Then
tolling bells, high-suspended strings and organ suggest the opposite in 'Faith'.
The music has a definite western orientation now. 'I'm alone in this' is
a not uninteresting bleak study in dejection although there are some interesting
The highlight of the whole album is 'Iguazu', written by Gustavo Santaolalla.
It is a beautifully hypnotic creation for guitars, and I think, harps. Vibrant
and racy, yet it has the delicacy and lightness of a summer breeze. What
a let down then is the beginning of 'Liquid Moon' with its synth clichés
but when the tempo picks up with the entry of the acoustical instruments
in jazz mode, humanity and interest are restored and the cue ends a lot better
than it begins. Some weird synth mumblings occur in 'Rites' with one effect
very suggestive of a lumbering freight train. I will pass over the remaining
two jazz/rap/rock dronings of 'Safe from harm' and the weird synths and dismal
vocals of 'Meltdown' - they might appeal to younger listeners but they will
be programmed out of any of this reviewer's future listenings!
An extraordinary but often fascinating album.
"Zara" doesn't entirely agree:-
This is an unusual atmospheric score. I agree the opening cue 'Tempest' sounds
hypnotic. It has a mesmeric, Sufi-like (Muslim mystic) influence. It sounds
dangerous too. I did not hear any freight trains rumbling through 'Rites'
but I did like the nice jamming together of the drums and flute and synth
- all blending well; the flute in its solo passage was particularly appealing.
Unlike Ian, I rather liked the last two tracks. 'Safe From Harm' is a dramatic
funky jazzy rap mixture, that is well done, while 'Meltdown, is the opposite,
slow, seductive, smoochy and hot.