Latest reviews of new albums:
  • Composed by James Horner
  • La-La Land Records / 2010 / 51:19

A legendary director, a popular tv star trying to make a name for himself in a big film, the highest pay-cheque ever awarded to a screenwriter – there was only one way Jade could turn out, and that was to be a gigantic success.  What could possibly go wrong?  On the flip side, William Friedkin hadn’t actually directed anything good since 1973 (and still hasn’t), the star had never had the lead role in a major film before and the luxuriously-paid screenwriter’s previous film was the notorious Showgirls.  So, in fact, an awful lot could go wrong (and did).  The score is pretty notorious among film music fans, having been widely regarded as James Horner’s worst ever since the film came out.  That’s interesting, since very few people saw the film and there was never an album release, so I’m not sure what exactly people based that on; having now actually been released, it seems a faintly ridiculous notion.

This is one of six scores written by the composer in 1995 and when you consider that amongst the others were Balto, Braveheart and Apollo 13 it’s not hard to see why it didn’t immediately grab people’s attention – it is the polar opposite of them.  Instead, Horner provided one of his bleakest, most minimal scores.  It’s largely electronic, tremendously evocative, occasionally flush with erotic undertones.  The best cue, “Matt Gets Turned On”, is especially good, the composer making the most of his limited instrumental palette – keyboards, subtle voices, gentle percussion – to generate a positively electric atmosphere.  Much of the score is very moody, very dark, save for occasional (slightly odd) Chinese interjections, the pick of which is “Stalking Patrice”.  Jade isn’t a classic – far from it – but it’s interesting to see a vastly different side of Horner, one which shows that he isn’t all about the grand gestures and symphonic majesty, and there’s a real intelligence of design here.  La-La Land’s new album is possibly for Horner completists only, but I’m sure they will be really grateful to have it.  I think it makes for a really interesting listen.  ***

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