January 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Harry GREGSON-WILLIAMS
Spy Game  
  OST
  DECCA 016 190-2   [71:34]

Spy Game

Through the 90s there were innumerable scores to which reviewers happily flicked off a comment about being a "Zimmer clone". Once Media Ventures took on what seemed like an army of wannabe composers, they were easy targets for such comparison. Of course the reality was that producers and directors did indeed want Zimmerís style but were lucky to find the guy with 5 minutes to spare for their films. For the last few years however, the composers in question have been getting meatier projects and more mature musical personalities. A case in point being Gregson-Williams who has previously seemed joined at the baton with John Powell (Antz / Shrek).

You will most certainly detect the influence of Zimmerís action writing for this action-oriented film and score. Thankfully the geography of this picture allows for a better framework to hang that upon. Employing The Traditional Chinese Performing Arts Institute, Middle Eastern, Chinese and Vietnamese vocalists and a boy soprano means this is a heady brew stylistically speaking. Yet it sits together just fine.

With "Su-Chou Prison" you immediately have a 5-minute taster of the albumís ranging between the electronics action sound (done very well) and oriental licks managing not to hearken back to Zimmerís Black Rain. Followed by "Muir Races To Work" there are the occasional flickerings of melody, but this isnít a score concerned with obvious themes (unless you count the guitar funkiness of "Berlin" reprised in "Operation Dinner Out").

Ultimately the borderline experimentation with influences and geographical stereotypes might be too much for some listeners. But anyone paying attention to where Zimmerís legacy is being spent ought to find plenty here to be intrigued and in some ways re-assured by.

Paul Tonks

***

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