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Quick-Click Reviews | Volume 22

 

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Black Knight by Randy Edelman

Running Time: 37:09

 

 

 Audio Clips
Available at Amazon.com

Black Knight by Randy Edelman
Impressions by Christopher Coleman

Music Composed and Conducted by Randy Edelman
Produced by Randy Edelman
Executive Producer: Robert Townson
Released by Varese Sarabande Records - November 13, 2001

Randy Edelman is just not heard from enough.  With stand out efforts such as Dragonheart, Gettysburg, and Passion of Mind, its disappointing that Edelman doesn't obtain more work.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he takes on assignments such as Black Knight, which stars Martin Lawrence as a misplaced, misguided, city-slicker from the 21st century cast into the Middle Ages.  His mere placement into the Medieval World is suppose to provide the backbone of humor.  A black-man in Medieval England...how hilarious! Right?  Wrong.  If that wasn't bad enough, his character's name is Jamal Sky Walker.  Oh, a play on Star Wars!  How clever!  Right?  Wrong.  As bad as this sounds, could the score be a silver-lining to this medieval-mess?

With such a story to work with Randy Edelman doesn't stand a real chance of producing a decent score.  Does he?  Edelman's score contains elements that most Edelman fans have come to know and appreciate: strong but underused melodies and expansive, but of course, synthesized orchestra instruments, occasional guitar motifs and so forth.   Black Knight offers a bit of each and they represent the highlights of the score, as well-worn as they might be.  The problem is that most of these have been heard, in one form or another, on previous Edelman projects...and, at least, had the merit of being somewhat fresh back then.

With the premise of the film, one would have to expect Edelman to attempt to fuse urban grooves with the noble sound of the Middle Ages.  This he does and as one would also have to expect too, it flat-out doesn't work.  Not only in the very concept, but Edelman doesn't do hip hop very well.  It is of the cheesey, Hollywood-type of urban music that most film music fans do their best to ignore.  Add to this the occasional and clearly incompatible nod to the Western (ie. lonely harmonica) and one has real problem on their hands.

Despite Edelman being a long-time composer of heavily synthesized scores, his patented sound is starting to sound a bit thin, especially when compared to the more daring, and fuller sound that John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams seem to be belting out left and right.  Hopefully, Randy Edelman will better showcase his talents with films such as Gods and Generals in 2002.

Rating: 4/10

Black Knight by Randy Edelman at Amazon.com
 

   

From Hell by Trevor Jones

Running Time: 72:17

 

 

 Audio Clips
Available at Amazon.com

From Hell by Trevor Jones
Impressions by Christopher Coleman

Composed by Trevor Jones
Conducted by Geoffrey Alexander
Produced by Nick Redman
Orchestrated by Joel H. Rosenbaum
Performed by: The Academy of St. Martins in the Field; The London Voices;
Belinda Sykes (female vocalist); Bill Brooks (Overtone Vocals); Andy Finton (Chinese Flutes);
Ray Mann Chinese Orchestra (Chinese Musicians); Trevor Jones (Synthesizers)
Executive Producers: The Hughes Brothers, Robert Townson
Released by
Varese Sarabande Records - October 2001

Stepping out of their established niche, The Hughes brothers explore Victorian England and the legend that was Jack the Ripper.  Trevor Jones' accompanying score to the very atmospheric visuals is, in a word, "perfect."  Both the Hughes brothers and Jones alike forego the usual bag-o-horror-flick tricks, and produce a film and score that is infinitely more interesting than 99% of other films of this sort.  After the initial speed-bump of The Nobodies - Wormwood Remix (1), by Marilyn Manson, Trevor Jones' score takes hold of the listener's attention.  Of course the score conveys the gothic nature of story and Jones does so most effectively: lowly chorus, dissonant strings, rumbling bass, the occasional bell toll, all combine to transport the listener to the darkened streets of 1888 London, England.  Jones' music subtly helps to create the mystique the Hughes Brothers were after and this carries right over to the Varese Sarabande's presentation of the soundtrack.  If listening to this score alone, one will likely take a peek behind them once in a while...just to be sure they are, indeed, alone.

A couple of noteworthy tracks are 8, The Compass and the Ruler, and 13, Bow Belle (Absinthium).  Both are mixed to sound as though they are being played on an old phonograph including speed fluctuations, pops, crackles, and hisses.  While Bow Belle is nicely mixed with some of Jones score in the film, the soundtrack does not include this portion of the music.  Track 8, goes a similar route.  Starting off with the same antiquated sound, playing one of Jones' main, gothic-motifs, it quickly transforms into full stereo sound.  Finally, the track moves from its methodical pace into a full invigorating gallop, before ultimately returning and concluding in suspenseful fashion.

From Hell is an exceptional effort from Jones.  It effectively communicates the foreboding streets of London and the mystery of Jack the Ripper.  It isn't the sort of score for listening to all day long, but sure demands the occasional leisurely spin the CD player.

Rating: 7/10

From Hell by Trevor Jones at Amazon.com
 

   

Requiem for a Dream by Clint Mansell

Running Time: 50:59

 

 

 Audio Clips
Available at Amazon.com

Requiem for a Dream by Clint Mansell
Impressions by Christopher Coleman

Music Composed by Clint Mansell
Produced by Clint Mansell and Judith Sherman
Arrangements by David Lang
Performed by Kronos Quartet and Clint Mansell

Released by Nonesuch Records - October 10, 2000

Clint Mansell's minimalist score to the disturbing Requiem for a Dream is one that must be categorized with those that deserve the highest marks for its function within the film, yet suffers some when isolated from the images, characters, and story.  Of course for those given to minimalist and experimental music, Requiem for a Dream will prove a satisfying listening experience from start to finish  Requiem actually marks the reuniting of director Daren Aronofsky and Clint Mansell since their work on Pi - a film that got its share of recognition and put Aronofsky on the filmmakers map.

Requiem for a Dream could be considered experiemental music, but it really is founded on two very clear elements:  first, the crisp performance of the famed Kronos Quartet; second, the employment of synthesizers and digital loops that emit a strange antiquated feel circa 1980.  Mansell uses a handful of string motifs repeatedly throughout the score but in between is a void of minimalistic music that will be difficult for many typical film music enthusiasts to get very enthusiastic over. 

Rating: 5/10

Requiem for a Dream at Amazon.com
 

   

Thirteen Ghosts by John Frizzell

Running Time: 60:33

 

 Audio Clips
Available at Amazon.com

Thirteen Ghosts by John Frizzell
Impressions by Christopher Coleman

Composed by John Frizzell
Conducted by Adam Barber
Performed by the Northwest Sinfonia
Produced by John Frizzell and Adam Barber
Executive Producer: Robert Townson
Released by Varese Sarabande Records - October 30, 2001

One might call the 2001 rendition of Thirteen Ghosts a spoof more than a remake of Williams Castle's 1960 gimmicky original, 13 Ghosts.  Based on original story-line of a family that inherits a spooked-up mansion, the 2001 feature film adds all of the usual modern-day-horror ingredients:  gore, humor, and gee-wiz special effects.  Unfortunately, the film also leaves out what most modern horror flicks that target young, thrill-seeking, audiences do; things like: a script and an actual character here and there.  Thirteen Ghosts is easily grouped into the blob of high-tech, low-interest, horror films produced en masse; however, John Frizzell's accompanying work does have something to be said about it.  While Thirteen Ghosts is no Alien Resurrection, it does parallel this earlier Frizzell project.  Pulsating and rugged brass, trembling strings, and the occasional synthesized element make up the backbone of the score.  From time to time, Frizzell really throws in the chills with distorted violins and an assortment of warped instrumentation.  Setting up all of Frizzell's frightful music are the moments of quiet dissonance that float throughout the score.  Altogether Thirteen Ghosts is an interesting listen, especially for those with a propensity toward the dark-side of film music.  The score certainly exhibits some of the talent that John Frizzell possesses and will hopefully lead to bigger and better projects in which to showcase them.

Rating: 5/10

Buy 61* by Marc Shaiman at Amazon.com
 

   

 

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