August 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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  VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6366   [44:36]


David Arnold's previous film for director Michael Apted was the James Bond thriller The World Is Not Enough (1999). Now they have re-teamed for by the numbers Sleeping With The Enemy (1990) rehash Enough. Perhaps their third collaboration will be More Than Enough…

In a world of interchangeable, largely personality free thriller scores, and we've had more than enough of those lately, the very least that can be said of David Arnold is that he has an immediately recognisable musical signature. A signature characterised by emotional melody, delicately orchestrated introspection and blistering orchestral action sequences augmented by furious electronic beats. On the evidence here he is also warming up for his next big assignment, scoring the latest Bond, Die Another Day. Opening cue "Give Me A Sign" could easily be Bond pre-credit underscore, though with only one short burst of patented electro-enhanced rhythm. Otherwise its menacing suspense leading to the darker still "F.B.I.?" Arnold does this sort of thing as well as anyone, though the following "A New Leaf", with distantly reverberating piano over strings and a gentle programmed beat introduced at the halfway point is likely to prove more appealing. "Slim and Joe" is more of the same without the beat, before the score really comes to life with the tremendously exciting "Get Out of the House". This is a slow-burning seven minute set-piece which moves from tense electronic atmospherics into orchestral crescendos and eventually full-blooded all-out electro-orchestral action music infused with an utterly thrilling sense of desperate urgency. "Quiet", the most exciting cue so far this summer this side of John Williams' Minority Report. Yes, it could easily come out of a recent Bond movie - though the chords for the aftermath of the action more suggest Independence Day (1996) - but there are many who won't quibble with that for a moment. Towards the very end of the piece Arnold introduces a string motif which provides an emotive, fatalistic air to the second half of the album, developing the device into a more fully melodic piece in the next cue, the lament "Goodbye Gracie".

The emotional theme continues though "Training Day" - the title being one of two on the disc to cheekily reference another recent thriller - with a rousing, uplifting string arrangement combining with modern beats in a way which suggests a modern Rocky. (The back cover shows star Jennifer Lopez ready to rumble - and as a bonus sports the happy legend "This album does not contain any recordings by Jennifer Lopez"). "Breaking In" is the suspense music suggested by the title, while "Setting the Trap" raises the bar with monstrous orchestral crashes and skittering strings, leading inevitably to the moment when both the beat and the portentous main theme kick back in. While the cue builds in a most satisfyingly way before falling away to more introspective writing and building once more to a peak of delirious melodrama it is the almost nine minute "Fight Club" which will raise most temperatures. Largely dispensing with the electronics of "Get Out of the House", this is a big old school orchestral suspense workout of the sort all too lacking from most current thrillers. The final track, "One of the Lucky Ones" provides an effective coda, though fades too rapidly, the disc failing to provide the resolution of an end title as doubtless the final minutes of the film are given over to furthering Ms Lopez other career.

One relentlessly exciting action cue and some attractive melody does not a great album make, but compared to so many other scores released recently this is a refreshing and exhilarating CD. The sound is very powerful, though there is rather more hiss in places than might be expected, not that this should seriously put anyone off buying a very enjoyable disc.

Gary S. Dalkin


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