- Composed by Timothy Williams
- Lakeshore Records / 2014 / 26m
Directed by Mario Van Peebles, the cultural landmark Red Sky stars Cam Gigandet as a disgraced pilot called Butch Masters who finds himself lost in the desert after flying a secret mission over Iran with the aim of blowing up a weapon intended to be used by Kurdish separatists to destroy oilfields in Northern Iraq, meaning the Americans will no longer be interested in the territory and therefore not notice that they declare an independent state. This highly believable straight-to-DVD tale is expected to join the likes of The Spirit of St Louis and Twelve O’Clock High and be considered one of the truly great movie chronicles of aviation.
The score is composed by Timothy Williams, perhaps best known for his work orchestrating and conducting most film scores by Tyler Bates, along with some for other people; he has also written over twenty solo scores and I believe this is the first of them to have received an album release. While Red Sky may not end up getting a particularly high profile, it sounds like a kind of Top Gun meets Rambo and that’s the type of movie that can certainly receive a fun score; and slightly surprisingly, Williams was able to work with a live orchestra (the Czech National Orchestra) which was another good sign.
So… it’s all a bit disappointing that the score starts off as basically a fairly anonymous modern actioner with the usual Remote Control hints. It’s at the high end of that range thanks to the way the orchestra is used (as an orchestra – you can tell the music’s written by someone who knows how to do that, it isn’t like keyboard music clumsily transposed onto live players à la Jablonsky or Djawadi) but one would be forgiven for thinking this was going to be another crushing disappointment based on the first few minutes. After a brief opening piece comes the testosterone-infused “Mission Compromised”, which has most of the points required for a modern piece of action music including sadly a complete lack of personality. “Airplane Lovers” is a nice romantic piece which is a bit different – but again the sort of thing we’ve been hearing from Trevor Rabin and co for years.
Fortunately that all proves to be a big red herring because it all explodes into life in “Escape from Azerbaijan”, a terrific action cue, really impressive orchestral writing the highlight. Electronics inevitably accompany that but it’s done with no small degree of panache. Then more distinctive flavours begin to emerge – I particularly like the colourful use of the duduk and ney to provide the requisite ethnic tinge (they were overused for some time in film music but thankfully that has gone away) and, combined with a subtle female vocal, “Besh Barmag” is a particularly attractive piece.
Following that, it’s virtually non-stop action to the end of the short album. It’s handled with aplomb and is certainly exciting material (punctuated by the touching “Requiem for the Dead”). After a less-than-promising start, the album ends up being thoroughly enjoyable. It’s a shame the music never quite finds a unique selling point that would truly make it stand out from the crowd – and it’s a shame that so many of the cues are so short (ten of the album’s 18 tracks last less than 90 seconds) – but there’s certainly enough meat on the bones to make it worthwhile checking out.