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The Angels’ Share
  • Composed by George Fenton
  • Quartet Records / 2013 / 46m

Ken Loach’s 2012 film The Angels’ Share is a typical social drama from the esteemed director, following a group of young Scots finding their way in life despite their poverty.  As is reasonably well known throughout the world, most Scots occupy their time by doing three things, usually simultaneously and always while wearing a kilt – tossing cabers, eating haggis and doing bad karaoke renditions of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers.  They only rest when there’s a good reason to slag off the English, which in fact is most of the time.  This encapsulation of Scottish life is represented on this album by it opening with that very same song, fortunately not a bad karaoke rendition but the real thing.  It’s a great song, of course.  The score itself is composed by sassenach George Fenton, who has written the music for the majority of Loach’s numerous films for the last three decades (in fact it was their twelfth film together and they’ve done another one since).

While in recent years Fenton has attracted much acclaim for his magnificent, lush scores for BBC natural history documentaries, those familiar with his wider body of work will certainly not expect anything along those lines in a score for Ken Loach, and sure enough this is the kind of relatively low-key music which characterises their collaboration.  It’s all played by a small ensemble featuring drums, bass, guitars, percussion and keyboards.  At times the music is pretty dark and gritty – an industrial beat provides fairly miserable accompaniment to action scenes – but for the most part it’s rather pleasant and charming, and the nature of the instrumental ensemble lends itself to suggesting a dogged spirit, exactly as the film demandes.  It’s mostly easy listening, and I mean that in a nice way; but the trouble is that the tunes themselves don’t particularly stick in the memory – it frequently sounds like an instrumental pop album rather than a film score, but the tunes just aren’t quite distinctive enough to sustain it as an instrumental pop album.  It does its job very well within the film but perhaps didn’t really lend itself to an album release (which, if I’m honest, is something I find with most of the Fenton/Loach scores).

Rating: ** | |

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  1. christopher (Reply) on Friday 26 July, 2013 at 19:47

    I award you 10 points for forcing me to look up the meaning to “sassenach”.