December 1999 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

Christopher TYNG
The Associate Music from the film performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Tri-City Singers Gospel Choir   SUPER TRACKS STCD-880 [38:13]

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Comedy scores may just be among the hardest to write, yet often the least satisfying to listen to when removed from the context of the film for which they were composed. Unless the film has sufficient character and story to allow for more developed musical material, as was the case with Stephen Warbeck's magnificent score for Shakespeare in Love, comedy scoring can all too often become, out of necessity. 'Mickey-mouse' music, so closely tied to the on-screen action that it makes little musical sense on CD.

Relatively unknown composer Christopher Tyng adopted a simple yet effective solution to the problem of how to score The Associate, a 1997 Whoopi Goldberg comedy about a black woman, who when passed-over for promotion in favour of a white man creates a fictional associate for herself, a highly successful white man. Good-natured farce ensues. Schematically, Tyng chose to characterise the comedy with a traditional (white) orchestra, combined with a gospel (black) choir and wordless female soul vocals. His main theme is a jaunty, upbeat and swaggering affair, often driven along with a bouncy, presumably electronic, rhythm section. It is infectious, catchy, and repeated rather too often. For the more rousing moments the solo female voice joins in, somewhat reminiscent of rather more dramatically intense passages from Hans Zimmer's score for The Assassin (Point of Know Return).

Elsewhere there is a fair amount of the afore-mentioned Mickey-mousing, with lots of stops and starts and playful pizzicato strings. 'Laurel's Theme' combines choir, orchestra and piano in a warmly reflective melody, which while not especially memorable, is certainly attractive. 'Laurel Has Here Day' develops from almost John Williams-esque tender nostalgia into a big production number 'ATI' which is several cuts above the contemporary average.

The performances are splendidly spirited (the Seattle Symphony Orchestra is always a delight to listen to) and The Associate is polished, slick, and has a wonderfully rich sound with a real punch. It is a little repetitive, perhaps too much so to really justify having an album all to itself, and if the writing isn't yet of the highest order, Tyng shows enormous promise and potential, for instance, the finale is a lovely Williams-seque creation which could almost have come from Hook. Unfortunately it is spoiled by a very rapid fade, presumably to make-way for an end title song which isn't on this album. This is a limited promo release, and therefore difficult and/or expensive to come by. However, if you should acquire a copy, you will find an enjoyable and fun release. Play loud, and smile.


Gary S. Dalkin


Gary S. Dalkin

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