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The Grey
  • Composed by Marc Streitenfeld
  • Lakeshore Records / 2012 / 35:09

Some oilmen are hunted by a pack of wolves in the oh-so-subtle The Grey – there’s probably some sort of message buried very, very subtly in there, but who knows what it could be?  The film’s score is by Marc Streitenfeld, who rose seemingly out of nowhere to become Ridley Scott’s composer-of-choice; the fact that virtually every film he has scored has been either directed or produced by Scott (who serves in the latter capacity here) suggests that the veteran director sees something in him that others don’t, and I must admit I’m in the non-seeing category.  While I wouldn’t say he has written a bad score, in that nothing he’s done has harmed the films, the economist in me can’t help but think of the opportunity cost.

Anyone looking at the film’s premise and hoping for a score like The Edge will have tempered their expectations as soon as they saw who the composer was, and indeed they would have been wise to do so.  But there’s more than one way to skin a cat and Streitenfeld’s approach – while hardly as interesting to the listener – is a valid one.  He emphasises the horror more than anything, taking a textural approach that produces a very effective atmosphere.  It’s largely orchestral, with the strings doing the bulk of the work, sustained long notes accompanied by the twinkle of a keyboard or an occasional brass stinger.  It’s pretty chilling stuff (with a very occasional burst of action), largely unmelodic but it does its job.  Unfortunately it doesn’t make for a particularly engrossing album and, while it’s possibly the most impressive music Streitenfeld has written so far, that is I’m afraid a case of damning with faint praise.  I don’t want to be overly harsh – if the music works well enough in the film then one can’t argue too much with what the composer’s done – its suitability for album release is more what I’m questioning.  ** |

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  1. wolfpsy (Reply) on Wednesday 2 January, 2013 at 14:14

    This music is profound — it succeeds in telling a story in the pristinely beautiful but profoundly cold arctic. It is not the power of the man but the weakness of man that is the theme in this music and, in that weakness of struggle and of resignation comes a profound strength. In my humble opinion, The Grey and Marc Streitenfeld’s work here is Oscar category. This movie out-London’s Jack London. It out-Seton’s Ernest Thompson Seton. High praise!