February 2005 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Marc Bridle
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Elektra  
Music composed and produced by Christophe Beck
  Orchestrated by Kevin Kliesch and Richard Bronskill
Conducted by Mike Nowak
  Available on Varèse Sarabande Records (302 066 633 2)
Running Time: 45:12
Varèse Sarabande   Amazon UK   Amazon US

Following on from Graeme Revel’s effective score for Daredevil, Christopher Beck steps up to take the reigns for this pseudo sequel continuing the exploits of supporting character Elektra, as played by Jennifer Garner (from TV’s Alias).

As Beck has a track record that features much lighter fare such as Cheaper by the Dozen and American Wedding he was perhaps an unusual choice for this project, but his Emmy ward winning work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer may give a little more indication of his qualifications for the job. Ultimately what we are left with here is a somewhat predictable, if admittedly lively action/suspense score with plenty of percussive ingenuity but few melodic frills to give the piece some sorely needed emotional depth. Indeed, it’s melody that holds the secret for any film score that hopes to be more than background ambience and here Beck seems far more interested in sound design. This sadly leads to long sections that can’t help becoming a little dreary despite their obvious energy. Where he does finally introduce a melodic interlude on tracks like ‘The Kiss’ it is very short lived and far better are action driven pieces like ‘DeMarco’s End’ and ‘Escape From McCabe’s’ (the latter piece co-composed by Kevin Kilesch). Unfortunately, though these moments of interest are fleeting and the majority of the cues soon outstay their welcome, existing purely as textures to create atmosphere (‘The Hand’, ‘Gnarly Gongs’, ‘Typhoid’ etc., etc.) this approach disappoints unless you are technically minded and hanker after contemporary, percussion driven soundscapes.

Film music is a strange beast. It is created to support a visual medium and yet soundtrack enthusiasts invariably listen to it robbed of its intended purpose. To criticise a score for not working within its film is to condemn it entirely, but to say that it fails to hold much interest as a stand alone piece of composition is simply to acknowledge the fact that some music is just not suited to that purpose. And frankly I have to say that Christopher Beck’s music is very much a case of the latter.

Mark Hockley

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