May 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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The 4th Floor

GNP CRESCENDO 8064 [34:19]
Purchase from:   Amazon USA

I’m a little torn for how to summarise the experience of listening to this disc. The last album that had the same effect on my ear was Don Davis’ House On Haunted Hill. What I’m referring to is an over-abundance of different styles, but my problem this time around is in having absolutely no frame of reference. All I can find on this album (without researching elsewhere) is a reference to the film being "a story with otherworldly, horrific elements." It’s got Juliette Lewis and William Hurt in it – that’s horror enough for me right away, but since there is some fine melodic content here I’d like to be complimentary in context. It’s definitely an example of a CD needing explanatory booklet notes.

In just "Main Titles" alone there’s a disparate collection of things working together: a smoky female vocal, Armenian duduk, tinkling piano, gamelan (possibly sampled), and long-line tragic motif for strings and piano. It’s almost an overture, except for the absence of the cacophonous action style that later pervades cues like "Attack The Locksmith".

Twenty tracks follow in 30 minutes which means it all flies by far too fast as well. When you’re skipping between brushed cymbals in a lounge jazz environment ("Jane & Collins"), sprightly string ensemble providing a waltzing piece of faux period background ("Belle"), then back to the general bucket and spade throw together of styles ("Movers") – it’s what I’d call a jumble. The director is certainly taken by the results from his enthusiastic booklet spiel – just a shame he didn’t think to give us a précis of the story so we’d understand why it jumps about all over the place.


Paul Tonks


Paul Tonks

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