September 2004 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 Brian Tyler
  Available on Varèse Sarabande (VSD-6563)
Running Time: 67.10
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There's a simple reason why Brian Tyler has become such an in-demand composer. He is very good at his job. He is also one of the new breed who manages to retain one foot in the musical past while the other marches forward in search of a new, innovative future. In this way, Tyler deftly combines the old symphonic sensibilities with subtle modernistic electronics; and yet this not his true strength. What he does really well is create likeable melody amidst the requisite suspense and drama. And for me this will always be what makes a film composer notable.

For instance a piece here such as 'Zachary' features all the hallmarks of the atmospheric thriller, but has enough melodic integrity to rise above the obvious limitations that are often imposed by the genre. What works particularly well within this score is the composer's use of the 'Godsend Main Titles', an unsettling and yet sonorous motif that possesses emotional resonance, something that all film composers strive for and yet not all succeed in capturing. For Brian Tyler it seems to come quite easily. He skilfully takes this melody and interweaves it into the fabric of the work on pieces like 'Near Miss' and 'Draw the Burning Building', while elsewhere subtle keyboard work on cues such as 'Not to Me' and 'Epiphany' along with some eerie vocals on 'Funeral' etc. add a great deal of potent suspense and give the score weight and substance.

While would-be detractors (and there always some) might assert that Tyler sounds occasionally a little like other more established composers (James Newton Howard as just one example) this is not really a valid criticism. In this day and age in the film world it's extremely difficult to create a sound all of your own the way that Morricone or Barry did in the past (although there are some such as Thomas Newman that have managed it) and yet I suspect Tyler will gradually develop a musical identity, if only hopefully through the consistency of his work. And anyway, if Tyler does sometimes appear to borrow the style of another composer he always chooses the best comes up with something that is enjoyable and compelling.

These kind of suspense scores can so easily become run of the mill and it's to Brian Tyler's credit that he has been able to conjure up something that sounds relatively fresh and engaging. And with the announcement that he will soon be scoring the Keanu Reeves supernatural thriller Constantine and the exciting musical opportunities that's sure to bring, we have a lot more to look forward to.

Mark Hockley

***(*) 31/2

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