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February 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Duane DECKER
MechWarrior 4: Vengeance  

  Varese Sarabande VSD-6201   [71:08]

Weíve set a trend on this site for reviewing music from computer games, but so far thereís no danger of replacing regular film album reviews. These game albums are still extremely few and far between. This particular release doesnít do much to argue in their favour, but is pleasant enough to deserve coverage.

Composer Decker gets a rare opportunity (for a Varese release) to talk about his work across a couple of booklet pages. Yet he seems to want to hammer home how deeply he feels for the human condition instead of exploring his score in detail. Heís been associated with the BattleTech games for some time, but weíre left without any appreciation for how this release relates to any of whatís gone before. So go play those games should you really care to find out.

Beginning with "Aftermath", the album fools you into the possibility this will be an all-orchestral piece. After a highly Superman-like fanfare prologue, drums build into a nice march with Terminator overtones. But then thatís scotched by the following "Daggers" which explodes with electronic guitar and rock rhythms. The schizophrenia is frequently present track to track. Through the back-to-back of "DFA", "Eerie Theory", "Emmity Road", then "Closing Video A" we respectively traverse the Ď80s funk of James Horner from his Commando days (but without the steel drums), a little oriental respite, and then a nice patriotic pairing with American flag-waving pride over snare drumming.

Some few moments in the perhaps over generous 70 minutes catch the ear. The live brass over guitar and drum loops in "Push". The almost Arabic dance with a very pleasant flute dreamily floating on top in "Slow Burn". Some nicely layered percussive effects in "Wednesday 7". The album also ends on an on the big heroic high of "Davion Theme".

Without explanation, what something like this loses out by is lack of context. Itís not music for musicís sake and neither it is a story-telling movie accompaniment. So itís tough to know quite what the audience beyond game-playing souvenir hunters will be.

Paul Tonks

**(*)

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