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  • Composed by Lorne Balfe

Never before has a composer been so absolutely transformed in my estimation as Lorne Balfe has in the last few years. With his great fantasy music for His Dark Materials on tv, one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s finest scores for Black Widow, and his riveting action music for the most recent Mission: Impossible (which I madly wrote off at the time), he’s been writing consistently impressive music for a wide range of projects for both small and big screen, and his name on an album is, for me these days, a most welcome sight. With Ambulance, Michael Bay’s latest action extravaganza, sad to say that the run has come to an end to some extent, though not particularly through the fault of the composer. Film music, as someone once said, is not a type of music – it’s all types of music – and the type that dominates Ambulance just isn’t one to my taste.

The score is dominated – as those for Michael Bay films can be – by very loud, deliberately-abrasive textures designed to be – and succeeding in being – unsettling and to keep you on edge. I’ll start with the positive though: there’s a lovely, warm theme that is heard early on the album in “Brothers”, in somewhat manipulated form in “Heroic Deeds” in the middle and then at the conclusion in “The Rescuers” which has a kind of Americana sound to it along with a great musical expression of grit and determination, and is singularly impressive. In between that comes all the jarring electronica: beats and pulses come at you from all directions and are like a relentless onslaught on the senses. (This is distinct from beets and pulses, which form the basis for a delicious purple-coloured soup.) It’s hard to argue with it: a relentless onslaught on the senses is an effective description of many of Bay’s films, and this score is like an ultimate stripped-down musical representation of that. Understanding and appreciating that is rather different from enjoying it, though.

Rating: ** | |

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  1. Marco Ludema (Reply) on Friday 1 July, 2022 at 18:19

    Is it strange to say that Penguins of Madagascar is still my favorite Balfe score? 😉