April 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Music composed by Elia Cmiral
  Available on La-La Land Records (LLLCD 1005)
Running Time: 41:01


Probably the only person to come away from the Battlefield Earth debacle with his honour in tact, Elia Cmiral still has yet to really establish himself as a composer who has something distinctive and new to say. The work that I’ve heard by him such as Ronin and Stigmata is generally solid and professional but lacks that spark of freshness and originality that sets the very best film music composers apart from the pack. And really there is no real change here. Again Cmiral displays a reliable grasp of drama, suspense and emotional manipulation, but still has a deficiency in melodic imagination, something that for me is the true key to great film music. Occasionally there are signs of life within the compositions ( ‘Hallucinations in Shower’, ‘Twisted Reality’ ), but this score never really rises above the level of competence. Pieces like ‘Billy’s Nightmare’ and ‘Terry and Rats’ are standard shock cues with familiar string work, and there is a good deal of this kind of thing on offer. Elsewhere there are one or two more introspective moments as with ‘Julia Studies’ and ‘Video Tape’ and this gives at least a little relief from the all pervading sense of impending doom. But overall this is very much a case of heard it all before.

In saying all of this, I still feel releases such as this are worthwhile and there’s no doubting its quality in terms of pure film music, as a marriage for the images it was conceived to support. Ultimately it all depends on what you are looking for. If you are a fan of horror/suspense scores and don’t mind listening to tried and trusted techniques designed to make you feel uneasy, then this will perfectly fit the bill. If you are however a little more discerning, then don’t expect anything other than a sturdy example of genre scoring.

Mark Hockley

**(*) 21/2

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