Source Code Composed by Chris Bacon
Lakeshore Records (2011)
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“SOURCE CODE’S score
certainly knows what it is, and doesn’t pretend otherwise. It fits
the source material excellently, providing relentless excitement,
interrupted by fleeting moments of flourishing orchestral beauty.”
Review by Richard Buxton
One of the greatest joys of Science Fiction in film and literature is the
potential for a spectacle unlike anything seen before coming with each
attempt at the genre. It is the genre that has brought us such
mind-bending thrillers as MINORTIY REPORT and INCEPTION and has produced
classic scores like BLADE RUNNER, a groundbreaking score for a
groundbreaking film. Sci-Fi is the fertile ground from which the most
original and stimulating films are born. With a sufficient suspension of
disbelief, Sci-Fi can provide the ultimate in cinematic entertainment.
DUNCAN JONES’ SOURCE CODE is a film that requires such suspension, its
original premise is one of outstanding potential and if MOON is anything
to go by, it could be another excellent production from this up and coming
As the director continues to feel his way through the industry, it seems
fitting that another young and promising artist has been chosen to score
the film. CHRIS BACON, most notable for his working alongside JAMES NEWTON
HOWARD, and providing additional music for such films as KING KONG and I
AM LEGEND, scores his first blockbuster release in SOURCE CODE, and
compared to his previous solo scoring credits (ALPHA AND OMEGA, LOVE
RANCH), his music is naturally somewhat of a departure.
Opening the score in frantic fashion is “Source Code Main Titles” (1), an
opening suite that, in its scurrying strings and brass, resembles a
concoction of JOHN WILLIAMS’ score for MINORTIY REPORT and MARCO
BELTRAMI’S score for I AM ROBOT, comparisons that any composer would be
proud of. The relentless movement of the piece makes for an invigorating
and strong start to the score.
One of the stronger motifs heard constantly in the opening track further
establishes itself in “Eight Minutes” (3), although in a more relaxed
manner. This simple motif does a good job of driving the piece forward
without becoming monotonous. Variations of the motif are heard across the
entire score, initially in “You Don’t Know Me” (2), blending in well with
the simultaneously creeping and dreamy strings.
BACON’S forté, however, is clearly in the aggressive and intense music, as
heard in “Coffee Will Have to Wait” (5), a track of dual-identity,
beginning with a slow, suspenseful build before erupting into a percussive
and brash brass-lead action piece. BACON shows a strong affinity with
powerful percussion lead rhythm, evocative of JOHN POWELL’S action
scoring. BACON once again utilises a listener’s anticipation of a
crescendo in “Piecing It Together” (7) by slowly building up to a false
climax, ensuring the score never becomes too predictable.
Amongst all the action and suspense, the film occasionally allows BACON a
chance to unleash the full force of the orchestra as the film’s main theme
booms out in the closing moments of “Am I Dead” (8). The theme is a
curious one, one with a complexion of heroism, release and a strong tinge
of suspense, leaving the climax of the piece remaining on edge.
The score continues with an intriguing use of percussion, the sporadic
rolls punctuating the pulsating strings in “Colter Follows Derek” (10)
leading into the more thematic, “ A Real Validation” (11), a track
dominated by a rising string motif, accentuated by the brass blasts at the
end of each of the motif’s recurrences.
By the final third of the score it’s clear that CHRIS BACON has the action
suspense genre pretty much nailed in SOURCE CODE. The majority of the
music heard drives the film forward without ever developing so much that
it overshadows the plot. Nonetheless, it is pleasing when a change of pace
is heard. Such a change is signalled in “I’m Gonna Save Her” (12), which
momentarily dances gracefully into a beautiful and romantic theme before
sliding back into suspense mode. BACON reprises his venture into new
territory with “Regret and Reconciliation” (14) before the highlight of
the lighter side of the score, “Frozen Moment” (15), a piece that provides
a piano reinterpretation of the theme heard in “I’m Gonna Save Her”, and
rounds out this side of the score excellently.
The bombast returns for one last adventure in “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay”
(16), a chaotic finale to a fine score.
SOURCE CODE’S score certainly knows what it is, and doesn’t pretend
otherwise. It fits the source material excellently, providing relentless
excitement, interrupted by fleeting moments of flourishing orchestral
beauty. The only real disappointment is that in his music, it becomes
clear that BACON is at ease composing lush romantic orchestral themes, and
SOURCE CODE does not provide him with the material with which to express
this talent. Otherwise SOURCE CODE is an excellent effort in the early
years of a very promising composer.