Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Mychael DANNA 8MM Eight Millimeter  OST   SILVA SCREEN FILMCD313


Crotchet (UK)

Amazon (USA)

This film has yet to reach the UK and with its publicity machine some weeks away our knowledge about its plot is slim. As usual the booklet is no help at all and the news release sheet that accompanied the review copy just states - "8MM is a provocative story of a family man whose discovery of a small reel of film forces him to confront the darkest recesses of society. As his investigation leads him on a downward path of obsession, his traditional world falls away and, with it, his family is unalterably changed." Now I mention all this because much of this score is based on the music of North Africa (in fact Moroccan music consultants are credited in the CD booklet yet none of the illustrations give any clue as to this orientation rather they suggest a group of low-life undesirables (the on-screen characters, I hope) one of whom is wearing a shirt I would hate to see my worst enemy dead in!

Danna has created an above–average score for the thriller genre. It is full of atmosphere and has plenty of menace and excitement with vibrant ethnic colour and energetic rhythms. The music vividly suggests mystery and intrigue – one can imagine sultry and dangerously seductive dancing girls and an eye-patched portly villain wearing a fez practising espionage, drugs, white slavery, ritual sacrifice – or worse. The opening cue "The Projector" mysterious, threatening and unsettling, with extraordinary effects suggesting rolling dice, immediately evokes this Moroccan locale. The music develops into the second cue "The House" which is more relaxed, cosy and homely piano and orchestral meanderings with a subtle tune leaning towards the exotic. The next two tracks dwell in dark places, piling on the mystery and menace with exotic ethnic instrumentation; the music moving forward slowly. "Cindy" is a poignant piano-led cue developing the theme first stated in "The House"; this material is further developed in "What would you choose". All three cues are worthy and introduce a welcome warmer human element.

"Missing Persons" is a substantial cue and one of the most mesmerising tracks on this disc mixing very effectively Western pop/jazz/orchestral styles with ethnic music (which quickly assumes the foreground). The orchestration is very colourful using some rare and very colourful percussive effects. The track is strongly rhythmical; the sense of encroaching menace is well sustained too. (Holst’s Beni Mora is not far away in the closing pages of this cue). "Hollywood" never sounded like this, this is more "tribal-sounding" music again (but with a Western beat); it’s vibrant and includes voices and rhythmical clapping; one might imagine sultry dancing. The forces of evil seem to gather with "Unsee" and "Dance With the Devil" (the latter with hysterically insistent stick-like beating percussion over growling bass strings and native voices). We have met the weird electronic components of "The Third Man" and "Loft" (the latter accompanied by the sort of staccato string figures beloved by Herrmann) often enough before but they are imaginatively and atmospherically assembled. More weird electronics (some suggesting the distorted naggings of a shrewish wife), accompanied by ethnic dronings and percussion, inform "No answer". Moving over more weird and sinister electronics cues, sometimes with ethnic wailings, we arrive at another extraordinary six-minute cue: "Scene of the Crime". This track begins with sustained high-pitched, raw reeds with other curious wailing woodwinds below, arranged so that they suggest distant perspectives, but then they move forwards to occupy centre-stage where they dominate the music which is propelled forward ever more urgently by insistent drum rhythms reaching an almost hysterical peak in the next cue "Rainstorm". "Home" recaptures calm and serenity but there is a nervous enigmatic edge to the music which the concluding bitter-sweet melancholic "Dear Mr Wells" cue does little to dispel.

I asked James Fitzpatrick of Silva Screen if he could explain why the North African ethnic music was used: He replied – "A very good question – which I kept asking myself while watching the film! Basically I feel, as much of the film centres on the "porn low-life" of both NewYork and Los Angeles, Mychael Danna was trying to create a new "sound" rather than just go with traditional orchestrations."

Whatever, I think this is a most unusual, vividly-coloured and strongly rhythmical score.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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