Latest reviews of new albums:
Hell on the Border
  • Composed by Sid de la Cruz
  • Promo / 32m

Directed by Wes Miller, Hell on the Border tells the true story of Bass Reeves, the first black U.S. Marshal in the West. This was in the 1870s but the depiction of the struggles Reeves faces and the discrimination he must overcome will be depressingly familiar a century and a half later. The score is by Sid de la Cruz (his second film for Miller in less than a year) and is very entertaining, written mostly in a classic western style with a heavy focus on action – the sort of score you could imagine someone like Marco Beltrami writing for a film like this. Occasionally there’s an overtly modern sound in later portions (a synth beat unexpectedly appears in “Bass Reeves Loses a Friend”) but generally the composer treads that line between writing music that isn’t of the period at all, but is appropriate for it.

There are a couple of main themes which run through the score. The first is initially heard on guitar as the scene is set; the more dominant theme is an action motif that the composer manipulates all over the place to serve as the basis for many of the score’s action cues. Some of those are really thrilling – I particularly love the expansive “Horse Chase” but more typically the action has a more taut feel than that, with (sampled) brass and strings often staying in the low registers with multiple layers of percussion and often flavour from guitar or harmonica. There is a somewhat harrowing sound at times for the film’s less savoury moments, with a tragic feel to tracks like “No Coloreds Allowed in the Bar”. A lovely choral sweep appears for the finale “We Returned with the Bounty”. It’s a brief score at just over half an hour and never loses momentum – engaging from start to finish, it’s a shame that it hasn’t yet found an album release (I was sent a promo) because it certainly deserves one. If you do get a chance to take a listen, you should take it.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

Tags: ,

  1. It‘s quiet in here! Why not leave a response?