- Composed by A.R. Rahman
- Interscope Records 1507602 / 2010 / 61:20
Danny Boyle follows up his superb Slumdog Millionaire with this true story about a hiker who got his arm stuck in some rocks and, after five days, had to amputate it in order to free himself. It’s already been getting the same kind of buzz as the director’s previous film and looks like it may be another serious contender for all the awards in the new year. Hiring A.R. Rahman to score Slumdog was really the obvious thing to do, and his musical contribution played a significant role in the film’s success, netting the composer two richly-deserved Oscars. Hiring him for this is surely more of a risk – as far as I know, he’s never scored a western-produced serious drama before. This album suggests that the risk more than paid off.
Rahman’s score takes up less than half the album’s running time, but it’s very effective. A beautiful opening piece, “The Canyon”, is somewhat misleading; much of the score is unsurprisingly bleak, with electric guitars, percussion and keyboards augmenting a small-sounding orchestra. The music is downbeat but strangely compelling, capturing the desperation of the situation very well. Rahman utilises vocalists too, in an almost ethereal way. It’s excellent music. The album is extremely peculiar, however – I’m sure all the different songs have a role to play in the film, but they are placed seemingly randomly through the album and make it impossible to enjoy. Going from the blackness of Rahman’s “Touch of the Sun” to Bill Withers’s “Lovely Day” and then on to a Chopin Nocturne is decidedly odd. Rahman so carefully constructs the atmosphere required and the album never allows it to be showed off as it should be. Program the songs out (including the very disappointing collaboration between Rahman and Dido, “If I Rise”) and you are left with a fine – if occasionally uncomfortable – piece of work. *** 1/2