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  • 9Composed by Deborah Lurie / Themes by Danny Elfman
  • Koch Records KOC-CD-4776 / 2009 / 49:38

“Themes by Danny Elfman” is what is says on the cover.  “What themes?” is what I say.  The score for this animated science fiction film may have many qualities, but strong themes aren’t amongst them. The score itself is composed by Deborah Lurie, who has collaborated with Elfman on other projects, replaced Christopher Young on a couple (including her last-minute re-scoring of parts of Spider-Man 3) and done some solo stuff too.  Her score here is muscular and aggressive, focusing mainly on action (though there are various softer moments which serve as welcome interludes in between the orchestral onslaught which forms the bulk of the score).  It’s impressive stuff, too – nicely-orchestrated, doing everything it needs to do, and given a notably good recording by Casey Stone which shows it off very nicely.

You’ve probably been waiting for the “but” to come (if you’ll pardon the expression), and the wait is over.  The problem the score has is that, however good it may be technically, and however hard it is to nail down any problems from that point of view, it just all feels a bit generic.  “Soulless” is probably too strong a word, but not that far too strong.  Is the score by Deborah Lurie or is it a collection of pieces from similarly generic scores by people like John Debney and Alan Silvestri?  What does the music do in an attempt to give 9 an identity of its own?  What might make a listener choose to listen to this album over all the other action scores they’ve got in their collection?  I’m afraid I can’t provide an answer to any of those questions.  I don’t want to give an overly-negative impression – the star rating reflects the fact that it’s solidly enjoyable and there’s certainly nothing objectionable here (it’s leagues ahead of some of the tripe that’s been dished out in the last year or two, and I’d much rather hear a score like this from Deborah Lurie than most of the realistic alternatives) – but the ultimate feeling I get after listening to it is “so what?”  ***

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  1. orion_mk3 (Reply) on Wednesday 25 May, 2011 at 21:40

    You can hear the themes Elfman wrote on Disc 14 of the Elfman/Burton music box set. Seems he gave Lurie about 10 minutes of synth demos to work from, and hearing them in isolation makes it a lot easier to pick the themes out of the album. Interestingly, the Elfman demos are very quiet and the muscular action music seems to have been more or less all Lurie.