April 2004 Film Music CD Reviews

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

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Taken  
Music composed by Laura Karpman
  Available on Varèse Sarabande (VSD-6522)
Running Time: 45:34
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taken

Sounding all too often like second-string John Williams, this score to the Steven Spielberg produced TV series Taken is initially rather irritating with a soapy 'Main Title' and a tone that is almost fairy light. But then some of my resistance may be the result of having not seen the show itself. I suppose the truth is that based on the concept I was hoping for something a little more gritty and the music here makes it quite plain that the intent was actually family friendly television. While the criticism of the score in terms of its Williamsesque styling stands, taken on its own merits the music on offer here is not actually too bad, with some dramatic flourishes ('Romans', 'Tom's Revenge') and some gentle emotion ('Ride' etc.).

Yet the over-riding feeling when listening to this score is one of familiarity.

Orchestrations and colours are frequently so similar to long established work by far better composers that at times it's difficult not to view the music as a pastiche. On a cue such as 'Mothership Arrival' the first half is far too reminiscent of the aforementioned Mr. Williams, although the forceful conclusion does at least exhibit a more individualistic, satisfying quality. Indeed, there are many other similar examples of a composer struggling to inject some of their own personality into what is really an exercise in recreating a tried and tested musical formula. Only on tracks such as 'Allie's Miracle' does Karpman manage to conjure something which withstands real scrutiny, and here there is enough melodic attraction to just go with the moment and enjoy the music in its own right. Thankfully pieces like this lift the CD a little way above average.

Ultimately this is a soundtrack that falls somewhere between being accomplished and derivative, a kind of moderately entertaining example of formulaic musical branding that ends up neither being particularly stimulating or overtly reprehensible. It's all perfectly acceptable but does little to inspire real enthusiasm, allowing for the fact that every now and then the score transcends its limitations and actually works.

Mark Hockley

*** 3

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