Veteran British director Sir Alan Parker takes us on a trip to the American south in this critically-lambasted film, his seventeenth film to-date and the first since his acclaimed adaptation of Angela’s Ashes almost four years ago. His moralistic tale about capital punishment benefits greatly from the musical relationship forged by Parker’s two musical sons, Jake and Alex – the former a classically-trained composer, the latter an electro-acoustic composer.
The soundtrack album to The Life of David Gale is as eclectic in its sequencing as Parker’s thirty year filmography. There are sixteen tracks, six of which are collaborations between the brothers, whilst the rest of the album consists predominantly of solo offerings and more diagetic song fare. The soundscape of the collaborative cues feels more restricting than emotionally-draining – in response to the subject matter – and are well-produced showing a meticulous attention to detail, particularly with some of the melodic transformations. As befitting the locale, traits of Southern musical culture are well-represented and often well-hidden amongst a canvas of extended harmonic spacing and pounding drum samples. When not directly collaborating, the brothers supply very individualistic material, with Alex (who receives four sole-composed offerings on the disc) recalling many elements of contemporary Bluegrass in his rock offerings whilst Jake presents more traditionally acknowledged orchestral fare with his lucid string part-writing and predilection towards sustained tonalities.
A lack of stark constrasts between cues, unfortunately, ensure that this album makes for little more than a pleasant listen, but then given the laid-back Texan lifestyle it’s no wonder that the pace of this album seems more than a little measured. As an introduction to the breadth of ability shared by both composers, it shows great promise.