Latest reviews of new albums:
China Moon
  • Composed by George Fenton
  • Quartet Records / 2012 / 49:24

By the time it was finally released in 1994, John Bailey’s erotic thriller China Moon had sat on the shelf for three years thanks to the financial woes besetting its distributor, Orion Pictures.  Starring Ed Harris, Madeleine Stowe and a young Benicio del Toro, it actually garnered reasonable reviews, but still disappeared from cinemas very quickly.  That fate has led to its score, composed by George Fenton, being largely forgotten until this release in 2012 from Quartet Records.  It’s anchored in classic noir territory – the wonderful, bluesy main theme for saxophone, keyboard and strings is sultry but romantic, charting similar territory to John Barry’s Body Heat.  It’s dramatically very impressive, Fenton managing to convey a wealth of feelings – there’s always an edge to it – despite the relative simplicity of the composition.

The score’s second main theme, its love theme, is also very impressive.  Its rapturous arrangement in the early “L’Amour du Lac” is just wonderful, full of romantic passion.  Much of the score is pieced together from these two themes; and Fenton adds a vaguely Herrmannesque quality to some of the suspense (check out the strings in “Let’s Go Tonight” – superb stuff).  Where things fall down a little to me is when Fenton uses electronics in some of the action material – they sound very dated, far from Fenton’s usual classy sound (dare I suggest the score dives towards 90s tv movie standards when the keyboards come out?)  Still, for the most part this is strong stuff, coherent and compelling and a most welcome release of music by a composer who doesn’t get nearly the attention he deserves.  *** 1/2 |

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