Summer 2005 Film Music CD Reviews

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

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Music composed by Robert Rodriguez, John Debney & Graeme Revell
  Available on Varèse Sarabande (VSD 302 066 644 2)
Running Time: 58:14
Amazon UK   Amazon US

Sin City took comic fans by storm. Multi talented American director Robert Rodriguez, who also works as a producer, editor and composer in most of his movies, recruited Frank Miller, writer of the original SIN CITY comic, the hyped Quentin Tarantino who guest-directed one scene of the movie and a stellar cast which included Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, and Elijah Wood among others into this story of violence. Based on four tales of crime, adapted from Frank Miller's popular comics and focusing around those parallel stories which occur in the fictionalBasinCity, the movie was characterized by many as deeply violent, graphic, but accurate and faithful to the comic. A project of high-fidelity blended with notable and nostalgic film-noir influences, especially evident in the film’s general mood, colour and tone, this technical masterpiece enthused genre lovers with its huge coolness that overshadowed its lack of morality, profound sexism and misanthropic tendencies.

Brought in to compose the movie’s musical accompaniment, apart from Rodriguez himself who often provides scores for his own projects,were the Oscar nominated John Debney of the magnificent Passion of the Christ and Cutthroat Island fame, along with the New Zealand composer Graeme Revell, of the Chronicles of Riddick, Daredevil, Red Planet, Pitch Black, the Insider, The Siege, and the Negotiator fame.

This well-packaged and colourful Varèse release comes complete with a long and informative Robert Rodriguez note and fresh design, graphics and pictures that altogether compliment the film’s overall tone. The score opens with the marvellous title-theme in “SinCity”, a frantic and dissonant, but at the same time, groovy, memorable and particularly film-noir oriented piece, composed by Rodriguez himself. Fronted by loud, atonal Tuba lines, ear-piercing brass clusters and modern, rhythmic drum accompaniment, it sets a perfect tone for the film’s score, firmly followed by the other 2 composers, in both its style and melodic line’s nature in the rest of the score. His following “One Hour to Go” is easily one of the highlights of the album, with a rare – for this score – feeling of subtleness and pure melody, through it’s Herrmann-esque sting work. Rodriguez’ orchestral pieces are the more noir-oriented of the whole work, with the strong modulated and sharp saxophone lines, laid upon a harp, piano and full string orchestra mantle. Sadly, and quite surprising one might add, his main theme is not fully utilized, apart from the full rock rendition of the "End Titles".

Revell's work for Marv's scenes follows with an overall mood and scoring style which was presented in his previous dark, action scores for Assault on Precinct 13 and Daredevil but with an extra-added noir feeling with its low saxophone, closely following in this way, the opening Rodriguez main theme, Surprisingly for many, Revell’s contributions are crucial for this score while he demonstrates the strongest orchestral approaches, like the extremely notable, fiery and noisy “The hard goodbye” with his trademarked harsh electronics and percussion, low, loud and robust trombone / brass lines and short choir bursts, all reminiscent of his highly successful The Chronicles of Riddick score. In "Cardinal Sin" he makes an effective use of the organ, and in “Her name is Goldie” we listen to the eerie female vocals by Rebekah Del Rio.

A more classic and even more evident noir feel pervades John Debney’s contributions, with solo trumpet and saxophone slightly reminiscent of Jerry Goldsmith's L.A.Confidential. All is done here, in a more subtle and ‘classical’ way with strong alteration as to Revell’s approach, with an orchestra representing the more heroic character of Dwight, orchestral light percussion in fast-tempo in contraposition to the heavy, harsh electronic beats of Revell and a passionate, sweeping string line in "Old Town." A certain highlight of his work is "The Big Fat Kill", fronted by dramatic saxophone solo lines upon a full-laid string orchestra.

Added to the overall Sin City feeling as a conclusion, are 2 non-score, fitting tracks : the rock song "Absurd" by Fluke and the classical piece "Sensemaya" composed by Silvestre Revueltas.

Utilizing in full the capabilities of a large orchestra like the Studio Hollywood Symphony with special emphasis on its string section and fronting the whole with solo instruments like the notable presence of the rough Saxophone, melancholic trumpet and moody female vocals along with trombones and upright bass, the composers have managed, nicely and imaginatively, to blend all this with drums, percussion, electric guitars and a piercing brass ensemble. In this way, they have successfully merged their unique styles into a coherent, tight,powerful, intense and harsh musical work with unmistakable film-noir and jazz music references, all perfectly matching the corresponding movie’s tone.

Demetris Christodoulides


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