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Flashnotes - October 2001


Last Flashed:
October 19, 2003

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Harry Potter by John Williams

Harry Potter by John Williams - October 30, 2001

Just as expected, composer John Williams delivers another solid and entertaining effort for the even more greatly anticipated film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  Several months ago, when the trailer was released, we were given a glimpse of what Williams had in store for audiences and, sure enough, the balance of the score remains true to the Hook-like audio preview.  While the score for Harry Potter will surprise few, it certainly does nothing to tarnish the impeccable career of Williams.  It is packed with a holiday charm and atmosphere and is a delight to listen to from start to finish.  For those who are familiar with John Williams' body of work, don't expect to be knocked out of your seat by Harry Potter, but instead, thoroughly thrilled that Williams has lived up to his own high standard.  Still, there may be one knock against Potter.  As entertaining as Harry Potter might be, in the long run, it won't supplant Hook as Williams' most enchanting score.  Look for a full review of Harry Potter to be conjured up soon!   (Full Review now available!)
Prologue  |  Harry's Wondrous World  |  Entry into the Great Hall and The Banquet

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Invisible Circus by Nick Laird-Clowes

The Invisible Circus by Nick Laird-Clowes - October 27, 2001

Being inspired by the music of the group Yo La Tengo, director Aaron Brooks wrote the film, The Invisible Circus.  Their style became somewhat of blueprint for the film's score.  While the group provided two new songs for the film and soundtrack, the compositions of Nick Laird-Clowes (aka Trashmonk) dominate this release.  For those who are into the more modern sound of many film scores these days from the likes of Mychael Danna, Jeff Rona, or even some of Danny Elman's works of the last 5 years, then The Invisible Circus may have a few moments of interest for you.  Track 3, Beach, and track 17, Chapel, will be of particular interest to Good Will Hunting fans.  The guitar lead, harmonic plucks, and string supported theme is a relaxing bit to listen to; however, as the soundtrack progresses the score takes on a darker, at times, more industrial tone.  Despite the airy main theme, the overall feel of the soundtrack comes off as uneven.   Chapel

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Dragon and the Hawk by Guy Bianchini

Dragon and the Hawk by Guy Bianchini - October 25, 2001

Composer Guy Bianchini's score for the independent film, Dragon and the Hawk, like so many others, along with more and more television show scores, relies heavily upon the economical synthesizers.   The score does feature a Title Theme (1) that is good enough to perk one's interest, but the majority of the score falls into the endless pool of non-descript-electronic-underscore.  Sometimes dissonant and other times filled with chase-scene-energy, the score also introduces rhythms and instruments that quickly call back memories of bad films of the 1980's.  Of course, we didn't see them as so bad back then. 

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The Man Who Wasn't There by Carter Burwell

The Man Who Wasn't There by Carter Burwell - October 22, 2001

The Coen Brothers latest project leaps into the world of film noir this time around.  The team makes another bold statement with their black-and-white film, The Man Who Wasn't There.  Decca's soundtrack release spans some 45 minutes and is split between original score by Carter Burwell and classic works from Beethoven and one from Mozart.  Keeping in step with the mood of the film, The Coen Brothers utilize some 5 different piano sonatas by Beethoven including:  Pathetique, Moonlight Sonata, and Archduke.  Burwell's work here is, in his well-known-style, understated and, at times, menacingly dark.  With the exception of his bright, jazz piece, Nirdlinger's Swing (8),  Burwell's score flows well with the Beethoven selections.  This isn't a soundtrack for the masses, but fans of Burwell's foreboding style heard in Hamlet (2000) and a host of his other scores, will find several moments to their liking in this release.

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Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back by James Venable

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back by James Venable - October 21, 2001

Composer James Venable landed the difficult job of scoring Kevin Smith's latest project, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.  This release from Varese Sarabande coincides with a separate "songs from" release, so what you have here is Venable's wide-ranging score.  Spanning just about any genre you can name, Venable's tongue-in-cheek-score has to be taken as such.  If one is looking for a serious brand of orchestral score, then look elsewhere.    Venable's main theme is scattered throughout the soundtrack; being orchestrated and arranged in endless ways.  As parody-scores go in 2001, this is no Bubble Boy.    Venable's score can be a little frustrating.  While far from boring, there are few moments that the listener will be able connect to.  Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back rarely quotes any recognizable themes but remains aggressive in the styles employed   For the devoted Kevin Smith following; however, this release certainly captures the almost psychotic essence of the film.

Purchase at Varese Sarabande


K-Pax by Edward Shearmur

K-Pax by Edward Shearmur - October 19, 2001

Edward Shearmur's sometimes mystical, sometimes "spacey," score hits store shelves on Tuesday.  While you're picking up Mythodea (see below), make room in your basket for this unassuming little CD.  Swirling around the lonely piano, main theme are trip-hop rhythms, samples, and, at times, enough subdued "clicks" and "beeps" to cause R2-D2 to lose his breath.  Shearmur's spacious score will play nicely in the background no matter what you might be doing.  Not your typical film music score, but if one has a place for electronica-film music, then K-Pax should leave the store with you on October 23. Grand Central  |  Constellation Lyra

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The Yards by Howard Shore

The Yards by Howard Shore - October 19, 2001

Film-musicdom is preparing for Howard Shores' score for the first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy - Fellowship of the Ring.  To get a feel for what the composer might finally deliver next month has not been the easiest proposition.  In light of that, The Yards was rescued from the pile of unreviewed CDs in the Tracksounds catacombs and given several spins.  Shore's understated style and use of the London Philharmonic in The Yards may hold some clues to what some of the quieter, more introspective, if not darker, moments might hold in Fellowship of the Ring.  No matter what the final verdict is next month, The Yards is actually a moody-good listen.  Head over to Amazon.com and have a listen...you maybe getting a snippet of what is to come in November.

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Mythodea by Vangelis

Mythodea by Vangelis - October 18, 2001

"WOW!"  This is the inevitable, first word out of your mouth after your first listen to Mythodea.  Vangelis delivers what is most certain to be the most sublime release of the 2001!  This isn't exactly a film score, but a symphony composed to commemorate NASA's Odyssey Missions to Mars.  Mythodea does feature Vangelis' familiar synthesized-sound a la 1492, but Mythodea surpasses even that effort.  With vocals by Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman and The National Opera of Greece Choir, not to mention a stunning performance by The London Metropolitan Orchestra, this Sony release packs a whollop you're sure to enjoy!  Although they but scratch the surface, check out these soundclips...and then order your copy!  A full review is imminent...look for high marks all the way around on this one.  You're going to be blown away!   (Full Review now available!)
Movement 1  |  Movement 2  |  Movement 4

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Out of the Black (Score) by Larry Groupe - October 10, 2001

Although this release by start-up record company, Epicenter Records, is 95% non-score tracks, the 5% that features a mini-suite of Larry Groupe's (The Contender) score is enjoyable.  The majority of this soundtrack is comprised of bands and soloists that most have not heard of, but the genres represented on this soundtrack range from the grungy-title song, Out of the Black by Mercury, to pop-country sound of "High School Town" by Berkley Hart, to rock-ballad, "I'm Your Man"    For most film music fans, it is the Larry Groupe mini-suite that is of highest interest.
Orchestral Suite by Larry Groupe

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Swordfish by Paul Oakenfold - October 8, 2001

For the dance-soundtrack lover, if such a thing exists, producer Paul Oakenfold's album delivers the goods.  A number of tracks include rather long dialogue excerpts from the film and they are uncensored so beware.  For the old-schooler; however, the ultimate track is Oakenfold's remix of Afrika Bambaataa's classic cut from the early-Eighties, Planet Rock.  If you are needing some musical adrenaline, then Swordfish The Album is the ticket.

Purchase at Amazon.com (soundclips)


Brother by Joe Hisaishi - October 7, 2001

From the composer of the mega-popular Princess Mononoke, comes Brother.  Hip contemporary rhythms, classic Hisaishi piano licks and a memorable main theme are the earmarks of this soundtrack.  Need a remix fix?  The two concluding tracks will take care of that.

Purchase at Amazon.com (soundclips)


The Claim by Michael Nyman - October 5, 2001

While not much of a Michael Nyman fan, The Claim is a unique and engaging score from start to finish.  The haunting vocals are what linger in one's ear long after the soundtrack has stopped.  This Nyman score comes highly recommended!

Purchase at Amazon.com (soundclips)

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