January 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

Martin PHIPPS Eureka Street soundtrack to the BBC television series BBC WMSF 6016-2 [44:26]

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Eureka Street, a TV series created by the BBC, narrates the story of two people from Northern Ireland, trying to make their way in life through sectarian and political polarisation. The two characters are quite opposite in nature, Chuckie is a jolly man who hits the big time when he comes up with a business idea, and Jack is hard and moody, always getting into trouble.

The music by Martin Phipps reflects these two strands of the story. It is worth noticing that although the story takes place in Northern Ireland (mainly Belfast) the composer refrained completely from using the traditional Irish music idiom and instrumentation in favour of a more common orchestration based on strings, electric guitars, mandolin, some brass and percussion spiced-up with synths.

The score revolves around two themes: One for Jake and the other for Chuckie. The themes assume the identity of the characters they portray musically, that is, Jake's theme is hard and moody but full of lust, while Chuckie's is uplifting and carefree. As a whole, the score is an odd mixture of styles, orchestration and motifs. From the harsh, deprived of melody, synth and electric guitar opening combined with narration from the movie, to the joyful mandolin theme of Chuckie, to the tango in Track 5. "Eureka Street" itself is blessed with a light-hearted theme, blending mandolin, guitars and synth, in a way which is reminiscent of Chuckie's theme.

The score is quite predictable. The mandolin-based theme, with some variations, is utilised to underscore the part of the story referring to Chuckie, the harsh synth and electric guitar themes follow Jake. To interweave those two distinct sounds together the composer attaches a number of secondary motifs as musical passages between those two dramatic elements, alternatively mournful and optimistic. A wordless female voice is sparingly added to the spectrum of instruments, providing the score with an enchanting touch.

All in all, it is an interesting score. It seems like TV scores are receiving some attention after all, and becoming more detailed, contributing more to the drama on screen. The score under consideration although it is not characterised by great complexity or variation of themes, captures the tone of the series quite well. Its themes, heavily contrasted, propagate alternating moods of happiness and melancholy. The tracks that contain narration over underscore are quite powerful, especially Track 18.

It makes for a nice listen, but not a memorable one.


Kostas Anagnostou


Kostas Anagnostou

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