December 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Christopher YOUNG
The Glass House  
  VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6282   [36:44]

The Glass house

The Glass House is not as the title suggests a military prison drama, by all accounts a very generic suburban thriller starring Diane Lane and Bruce Dern and set, if the cover is anything to go by, in a large modern glass-faced house somewhere tropical. The score would appear to bear out the generic nature of the film, for Christopher Young's music is in the main superior generic modern thriller music. It is perfectly fine, and doubtless serves the film as well as any of a thousand similar scores could, but the majority of the cues here consist of brooding atmospheric orchestral suspense music mixed with some low key and subtle electronic textures.

Two features raise the score above average. First is the glacial, detached minimalism with permeates the music like a breath of arctic air, and surely proves a remarkable contrast to the sunny setting of the drama. There is an eloquent understatement about such cues as "Even if I had an Ax" (sic) and "Through a Glass Eye" which makes them far preferable to the sonic overkill of much modern thriller/horror writing. Such is the cool, cerebral detachment the score suggests it may be equally suited to a polished ghost story.

Second is that the opening and closing cues contain a chill piano melody of contemporary classical elegance which implies a line of development from John Carpenter's Halloween onwards. After an introductory "sting" the title cue is especially striking, while the following "Sunken Bells" maintains the starkly melodic mood. The penultimate "Soubrette" suggests a muted redemption, while the final "This Too Shall Pass" contains from the title onwards that sense of fatalistic, resigned valedictory which has haunted many of the best thriller scores of the past two decades. For these cues alone the album is worth hearing, and indeed, for fans of Christopher Young's style, worth owning. Those however for whom this sort of post-Herrmann suspense music has less appeal may find there is not really enough here to make the disc stand out from all the other thriller scores already on the market. One final note; between the more generic material the sound has a distant, autumnal beauty which is absolutely mesmerising.

Gary S. Dalkin


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