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BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE
Accomplished score offers depth to tv western
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
GEORGE S. CLINTON
* * * 1/2
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Home Box Office; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
It would seem that the western may be coming back into fashion - on television, at least. Hot on the heels of Into the West came Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a tv movie covering a broadly similar topic (in very general terms, the displacement of the natives as the white men moved west). If the choice of composer for Into the West was a little surprising (Geoff Zanelli, a Zimmer protege), that for Bury My Heart was even moreso, being George S. Clinton, best-known for his comedy scores like Austin Powers and its sequels. However, he had worked with the director (Yves Simoneau) previously, so it certainly makes sense from that angle.
Clinton has been a prolific composer, and much of his work has not been released in album form, so it is rare to be able to hear him writing music for a project with this kind of scale, or indeed this kind of level of seriousness. The score - released only as a promo by Clinton's agency - opens with an interesting piece initially suggesting Indian mysticism before things turn darker and thunderous action music beings to overpower that feeling. With a choir and a cavernous recording quality, it is certainly a portentous opening to the score.
"The Feather" is an expressive piece, featuring a fine solo passage for ethnic flutes; "The Train / Civilised" has a homely feel, particularly due to its use of piano, suggesting more "westernised" (perhaps it should be "easternised") domestic bliss. "Cedar Creek" is more dark suspense music; after the interruption of the source cue "Spotted Eagle Song" comes a bizarre cue, "Assimilation", which could come straight out of one of Thomas Newman's scores for modern dramas; there have been many impressions of Newman done by his fellow film composers in the years following American Beauty, but this ranks as one of the most unexpected. "Red Cloud" is one of the finest cues, with a beautiful string theme joined for a brief, but passionate, moment by the ethnic flute. "White Horse" is a fine piece of action music, intelligently-orchestrated and constructed.
By and large this is pretty accomplished music, with Clinton supplying a real sense of depth in his music. This brief album offers only a sampling of his score, and it would be nice to hear some of these ideas fleshed out a little on a longer album, but still this is certainly the most serious and impressive music by Clinton to have found its way onto CD, albeit a commercially-unreleased one.