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Orgasm time for lovers of endless drum loops
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
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Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Nonesuch; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
Tony Scott's latest opus, the ridiculous Deja Vu, has attracted a surprising amount of praise despite being completely absurd, but it does star the always-watchable Denzel Washington. Scott takes his more famous (and more talented) brother's style-over-substance routine to even greater extremes, but his movies aren't nearly so entertaining. The guilty pleasures of Top Gun, Crimson Tide and Enemy at the State are surrounded by a load of not-so-guilty displeasures.
He's developed a decent working relationship with Harry Gregson-Williams over recent years, with the composer providing a series of distinctive, ultra-modern scores which have much in common with each other ever since 1998's Enemy at the State, though perhaps Spy Game is the one where Gregson-Williams really established the style, which he has used in Man on Fire and Domino since then (and now this). It's almost like the hip scores his former collaborator John Powell has provided for a host of action movies, but somehow never seems quite so creative.
I think the instrumental choices have a large part to play in that - Gregson-Williams is happy to provide basic textural accompaniment rather than "real" music, with drum loops, synth pads and the occasional acoustic flurry pretty much dominating all of these scores. It all works OK in the films, but doesn't make for great entertainment away from them. This score has been released exclusively online by Hollywood Records - it's not scheduled to appear in stores - which allows fans of the composer the chance to hear the music, and their reaction would prove interesting. I can't personally see the appeal at all - Powell has shown how this kind of movie can be scored in a way which still allows for fantastic albums, and he has set the bar pretty high. Frankly nothing in Deja Vu comes close.
It's endlessly repetitive, devoid of even the hint of a decent melody (with the dubious exception of the guitar solo of "Tell Me the Truth"), emotionally detached and distant, and hugely difficult to take anything positive out of. After going through a varied and exciting period of composing during the early part of this decade, Gregson-Williams has largely disappointed me, with only the brief exception (Kingdom of Heaven springs to mind). Even on a large-scale project like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe he seemed to struggle for inspiration, and on this - well, frankly it's just a non-starter.