August 2001Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /Aug01/


Carter BURWELL
A Knightís Tale  
  Conducted by Carter Burwell
  Columbia/Legacy/Sony Music Soundtrax CK 85947   [43:13]

A Knights Tale

Dramatically adventurous music isnít exactly unprecedented in Burwellís output (Rob Roy / Conspiracy Theory), but he certainly isnít whom youíd immediately assume would (or could) score a medieval jousting tale. Frankly, itís a stunning surprise. The opening track "Nemesis" has a terrific action theme that appears every so often to characterise the filmís knightly hero. This aspect of the score is the surprise, and is welcome every time itís boldly restated (e.g. "A Lance Without Target").

With the next cue, "Cooked Patents", youíll begin to see some of the thinking behind Burwellís attachment. This is a courtroom dance taken over by electric guitar and drums that mix it into something far funkier. Although heís not been at the forefront of the 90s obsession with lacing contemporary rhythms into every conceivable genre of music, he has been a constant source of interesting rhythms. His general style falls into what Iíve frequently called melancholia. But take something like the decidedly melancholy Fargo, and youíll immediately be struck by the shifting unpredictable nature of its themes. When you put someone with that natural trait into an experimental environment, what you get is a contemporised musical genre that doesnít accord in any way to the Hollywood norm.

The love story of the film is given over to sweet and low, most often for solo classical guitar ("Apprenticed", "Guinevere Comes To Lancelot" and "Love Reflects"). Thereís also the occasional pleasant prominence on harp ("To Run Or Not To Run"). Aside from the action, what will undoubtedly linger in the mind longest is his take on the source courtroom music. "St. Vitusí Dance", either as the "Smithy Mix" or the "Grog Mix", is an infectiously upbeat number.

You can bet thisíll lose sales to the rock song album that preceded it. Iím willing to bet that other disc doesnít have a booklet revealing that its lead artist has no sense of smell though!

Paul Tonks

****

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