April 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Curio Corner

Anne DUDLEY
A Different Light  
  The Quartet of London * Anne Dudley: piano & keyboards * Derek Watkins: trumpet & flugel * Paul Morgan: bass * Phil Todd: soprano saxophone * Kuljit Bhamra, Paul Clarvis, Frank Ricotti, Luis Jardim: percussion * Rolf Wilson: orchestral leader * Carys Lane: solo vocal on "Pie Jesu"
  Angel 7243 55715821   [50:09]

Different Light

I must confess that until recently I had given Anne Dudley little thought, having unfairly regarded her as a rock musician with little appreciable musical talent. Exposure to Art Of Noise on television in the 1980's was enough to prejudice me for decades, while whatever Oscar-winning contribution she made to The Fully Monty passed me by entirely. Then last year I heard the song "Pie Jesu" from The Miracle Maker being performed live on television, and received the soundtrack to Monkeybone, a work of remarkable invention if not an especially enjoyable listen in isolation for someone who still has not seen the film. Clearly there was much more to Anne Dudley than I had realised. This beautiful new album should hopefully awaken more people to her talent, being a freshly recorded collection of themes and melodies from various phases and facets of her diverse career. The music has all be newly arranged by the composer, these versions centring on a string quartet, orchestra and solo players as listed above. The general style has something in common with neo-classicism, in that the formalism of the Baroque meets a warmer, more introspective and emotional 20th century English sound. This sound is then, in some pieces, infused with a jazz sensibility, a form explored by many composers in the early decades of the 20th century when the neo-classical movement was at its height.

The album opens with, in Dudley's words, "a full-blown romantic" version of the theme to The Crying Game, leading to the utter peace of "Pie Jesu". Both pieces display an fine ear for melody and appropriately crafted arrangement. "Turbulent Serenity" was written for an advert directed by Tony Kaye, here expanded into the sort of rich theme for string orchestra one associates with George Fenton, a pastoral English yearning clearly from the land of Elgar and Vaughan Williams. Two further, equally lyrical and attractive, though dark hued pieces, have their origins in Dudley's collaborations with Tony Kaye, "American History X" is the title music from the film of the same name, while "Two Brothers" highlights one of the key scenes of the drama.

"A Different Light" reworks music from the television series Anna Lee into a piece of exquisite serenity, while "A Different Life" spins a variation on the chord sequence from one of the two centrepieces of the disc. "The Club With No Name" is an eight minute experiment in moody electronics, orchestral strings and late-night jazz and belongs to the soundtrack of a non-existent film. If it were ever to be made it most likely would be Blade Runner II. Finally there is "Moments in Love", previously a famous 12" single and something of an icon in Dudley's career. For this disc she reincarnates it as an eleven minute piece which starts with luxurious piano, joined by elegant string quartet, which after four minutes surrenders to pin-sharp, digital rhythms and synthetic voices. The strings gradually return and are joined by a deeply passionate Latin flavoured trumpet for the lavishly melodramatic and deeply cinematic climax.

While those who refuse to accept electronics under any circumstances will dismiss two of the high-lights of this release this out of hand, the quality of the writing shines through and both the musicianship and Dudley's arrangements and production display impeccable taste. Imagine a comparable sound world to that of Michael Nyman, but filled with far more consistently interesting music and most importantly, blessed with real emotional warmth amid the crystalline detachment. A different light indeed, and one I am most glad I have seen.

Gary S. Dalkin

****(*)

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