March 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

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

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The Recruit  
Music Composed by Klaus Badelt
  Orchestrations by Klaus Badelt and Bruce Fowler
  Available on Varèse Sarabande (VSD-6433)  
Running Time: 49:44
Crotchet   Amazon UK   Amazon US


Klaus Badelt's score for this Roger Donaldson thriller is a somewhat subdued effort. It eschews the dense instrumental textures of his previous scores, preferring instead to prominently favour atmospheric, electro-acoustic material which, to the composer's credit I am sure, presents an accurate reflection of the film's dramatic content. However, he can be seen to be pushing in a direction that shows he is both flexing his compositional muscles beyond the remit of the source material as well as demonstrating that Media Ventures is moving with the times.

Farrell's character is ably supported by a lethargic, descending motif for solo piano, which is introduced in the "Main Title". Juxtaposing this is a repetitive arpeggio figuration for strings that will permeate the score in a number of guises before its resolved fortissimo restatement in the spoiler-titled final cue. They provide some semblance of continuity, but when heard alongside the rest of the score do little to help ingrain its many facets in the listener's mind. This by virtue of the fact that Badelt has deliberately set out to deliver a moody supportive score rather than conjure more elaborate fare that could only but sit-above the visuals. Of course, this is quite understandable when we realise that director Roger Donaldson was also responsible for charting Captain Bligh's progress with electronic pioneer Vangelis in 1984's The Bounty, a film featuring, perhaps, one of the most atmospheric scores written for a major feature film to date.

As a listening experience devoid of its subject matter, it would not be unreasonable to say that The Recruit fails to hold up completely when presented as an album. It is enjoyable in a great many places, particularly with the calculated grooves of "A Bug For Breakfast" and "Nothing Is What It Seems", and the effecting 5-4 suspensions of the trance-like "Hijacked". Yet its downbeat nature and sparse use of traditional instrumentation ensure that is more likely to be of interest to fans of the film than the average collector. Of course, the score will, most likely, draw unfair comparisons with Harry Gregson-Williams's highly-popular contribution to "Spy Games". Nevertheless, at a little under fifty minutes Badelt's writing does not outstay its welcome and seems perfectly-formed for its purpose. Whether it genuinely succeeds on disc is much more of a highly-subjective matter.

Glen Aitken

*** 3

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