January 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Mark ISHAM
Don't Say A Word  
  conducted and orchestrated by Ken Kugler
  Varèse Sarabande VSD-6291   [30:51]

Don't say a woprd

It would be all to easy to take this title at its word. However, here goes…

Don't Say A Word has a score by Mark Isham with "additional music" by Graeme Revell, though none of Revell's work is included on this present disc. The very prolific Isham - this is his sixth score this year - previously scored director Gary Felder's instantly forgettable Se7en (1995) imitation, Kiss The Girls (1997). According to the majority of reviews Don't Say A Word, which stars Michael Douglas, is one of those thrillers which starts out well and becomes increasingly preposterous as the plot degenerates into clichéd action scenes, which makes it sound very much like Kiss The Girls. If this album is anything to go by, 30 minutes of suspense-by-numbers, the feature will indeed be a dreary two hours.

There are eight tracks. Apart from the driving guitar and rock feel to parts of the opening 6 minute "Heist", which has a similar feel to Isham's Miles Davis tribute, the Silent Way Project, they comprise formula suspense and/or brooding atmospheric cues from an unusually constituted orchestra. Which is to say there are minimal woodwinds but nine horn players and seven harpists. Melodic material is scant, though one piano motif no-doubt coincidentally echoes Colin Towns fine score for the classic BBC TV children's serial Moondial. Electronic rhythms and textures, and coldly detached reverberation, are applied throughout, a distant piano running through the score in a similar fashion to Christopher Young's work on The Glass House (reviewed last month). Indeed, the scores inhabit similar sound worlds, Young's having rather more distinction.

Devoid of interest for any but the most avid fans of the composer, this utterly generic score is just one more tedious and pointless release from one of the worst years for film and film music in memory. Even the insert booklet is drab.

Gary S. Dalkin

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