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THE DA VINCI CODE
A gripping tale of intrigue, mystery and conspiracy...
A story by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
Can you crack the code?
3am: a time for prostitutes and alcoholics - two things which figure strongly in the life of Professor James Southall, dean of religious history at Harvard. He was woken with a start - the four cans of Foster's he'd enjoyed but three hours earlier were always likely to cause him to undergo a lavatorial excursion during the wee small hours, but the ringing in his head seemed to be caused by more than cheap Australian lager: an infernal noise, ringing like the Carnival of Rio, battering his senses like a sweaty policeman armed with an oversized truncheon. With the gradual awakening of the senses, the portly professor realised that the ringing was caused by a telephone. He glanced at his belle Angelina - worn out once again after mad, passionate sex which had lasted for hours and hours - the only pause was for the Foster's - and worried that one of his many other flames might be calling, shattering the amorous pleasure positively swimming around the room.
"Professor Southall?" inquired the meek voice at the other end of the line.
Then, the measured response: "What in the name of all that is holy are you doing calling me at this time of night, you stupid cow?"
"There has been an incident in Santa Monica. A man has been killed. His dying words were simple - 'Call Southall' - you must come immediately."
"I will get the first flight in the morning."
"No need - I work for the trillionairre Harbajan Sweetcorn - his private jet will get you here in five minutes." The alluring lady hung up the phone.
Professor Southall got out of bed, careful not to displace the vials of blood so meticulously arranged around the mattress by his darling Angelina, went for a quick dump and put on one of his expensively-tailored suits from Asda. He opened the door to his apartment - and was startled to see an albino man standing outside, with a Yamaha keyboard under his arm. "My name is Klaus. You must come immediately." Klaus whipped himself and injected something into Southall's buttocks. "So typical of the Germans," thought Southall as he drifted off into slumber once more.
The following morning, the professor was still trying to piece together the extraordinarily-elusive clues which had been presented to him. He has standing in what appeared to be a Viennese boudoir, perhaps from the 19th century - but in the middle of Santa Monica! The red walls were the colour of blood. Despite the sound-proofing, he could hear the screams of sixteen-year-olds on minimum wage coming from every room in the building. Each room seemed to be supervised by an Albino with an exotic name - aside from Klaus, there was Heitor, there was Ramin, there was Steve. Curiously scattered around were posters of films, with all credits replaced by "Music composed by Hans Zimmer." Being a connoisseur of magnificent music of the 1980s, Southall was familiar with the name of Zimmer, enshrined in musical history because of The Buggles' hit "Video Killed the Radio Star" and the theme tune from Going for Gold with Henry Kelly.
The startling truth was that this man was laid out on the floor of the boudoir, with a knife in his back, clutching onto a mostly-shredded piece of paper - only a few words were still visible. "Tell Klaus that if he tries to get the orchestra playing out of unison again I will crush him." Struggling to understand this cryptic message, Southall went over the facts in his head. Here was a German composer, killed in the night by a mystery assassin; the albinos had produced an ancient scroll which showed he was, in fact, the direct descendant of Jesus Christ's liaison with Cilla Black, a fact which had been covered up for all these generations by the Catholic church; and, most startling of all, there were queues of people on the internet claiming responsibility for the death, saying they regarded it as "an eye for an eye" given that the victim had himself been responsible for the death of good film music.
Southall couldn't help but feel these claims were rather harsh. To support this claim, he listened to a CD inscribed with a picture of the Mona Lisa, and the legend The Da Vinci Code. "Cor blimey, this isn't half bad!" he exclaimed. He proceeded to listen with much pleasure to an hour's music which was classical in concept, if simple in execution; his favoured passages included a remarkable sequence for soprano and orchestra, some dynamic choral writing, and even some stirring dramatic writing for orchestra. He couldn't help but notice the similarities with both Hannibal and The Thin Red Line, but was unconcerned: "this is driving, evocative, emotional music," thought the professor, as yet another piece of impassioned choral music came through the speakers.
Further investigation revealed that the music had been written to accompany a blockbuster film which had caused quite a stir. The film itself was based on a novel which sold in sufficient quantities and delighted sufficiently-many people that snobbish critics were compelled to say it was dreadful. Southall hoped that whatever critical backlash had happened against the recently-released film, people wouldn't fail to notice that Zimmer's contribution - far from signifying the death of film music - was actually quite some achievement, however many background contributors may have had a hand in its construction.
Without warning, a balding, bearded man wearing a black turtleneck burst into the room. His language was laced with foul profanities; at first, Southall thought he may have to exercise a citizen's arrest - was this the man who had killed Hans? But no, it emerged - this was Jesus Christ himself! A sprinkle of holy water later, Hans was resurrected! A miracle! Few could have predicted the words he would speak: "Fucking hell, has anyone got any cigarettes?"
Dazed and confused, Southall retired to the nearest strip club, but couldn't help but wonder what the future would hold in store for Hans and his legion of loyal followers - more high-quality work like this which simply mocks the reputation of the composer? Or more descents into brainless, computer-generated drivel? The death of film music, at least, has not yet happened; but the future of Hans may yet show whether it has been canceled, or merely postponed.