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Artwork copyright (c) 2005 IFC Films, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2005 James Southall



Impressive score from newcomer Furst, though it does betray its temp-track


Dust to Glory is a "dramatic documentary" charting the events of an epic car race which takes place each year in Baja California in Mexico.  Because it emphasises the dramatic moments, it needed a proper dramatic score, quite unusual for a documentary, and the filmmakers turned to young composer Nathan Larson (who in fact is extremely young, only 25 - I can tell I must be getting old because I've gone through the phase of seeing footballers younger than me, through seeing policemen and doctors younger than me - and now even film composers are younger than me) to provide that dramatic spark.  

I have to make a confession here.  I dread getting CDs like this through the letterbox to review.  People must think that's mad, dreading getting sent free CDs, but when I think of the number of times I've had to sit and try to think of something nice to say about a score by a young composer I've never heard of, for a film I've never heard of, but can't (because it's crap) I really don't want to have to go through it again.  Therefore, it took me a long time to even take this disc out of the packaging, and it was with great trepidation I put it in the CD player.  I needn't have worried - in terms of blasting expectations out of the water, Dust to Glory is right up there.  It's a highly-entertaining album.

I'll start, for some reason, by getting the big negative out of the way.  Over its considerable running time, the score constantly reminds me of something else.  Their comments in the liner notes subtly imply that the director and producer wanted Furst to stick close to the temp track and, sure enough, there are constant hints of other composers - specifically, James Horner, Michael Kamen, Thomas Newman, Basil Poledouris, Randy Edelman and a whole load of Hans Zimmer, especially Gladiator.  Sadly, this even extends to having Lisa Gerrard-style vocal wailings, though they are better here (and they were better in Gladiator) than in the vast majority of copycats which have appeared in the last couple of years.  Still, I do solemnly swear that I will personally go and castrate the next film composer who uses the device.  What on earth do vaguely middle eastern-sounding vocal solos have to do with a motor race in Mexico?  (Come to think of it, what do they have to do with ancient Rome?)  Mind you, it's not just that aspect of Gladiator which is aped here - the big action music is present too, even with Media Ventures-sounding synths.

Having said all that, it's impossible not to now say that regardless of its obvious lineage, the music is really terrific.  It might be a bit cheesy, but it really sets the pulse racing.  For very large sections in the middle of the album, Furst presents one thrill-ride after another, with more power anthems than you can shake a stick at.  Fortunately (and impressively) he intersperses these with some more introspective pieces, some of which are really quite lovely, particularly "Heart of the Baja", incorporating elements of Mexican music (well, guitars at any rate) - perhaps the film isn't set in the United Arab Emirates after all.  Furst's music is really rather impressive and, above all, very enjoyable, so this debut release from the composer comes highly recommended.  I only hope that for his next one he manages to put a little more of his own voice in there!

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  1. Dust to Glory (3:18)
  2. Heart of the Baja (3:55)
  3. Race Day (6:16)
  4. The McMillins (3:46)
  5. Falling from the Sky Vast (3:24)
  6. Andy Closes the Gap (2:22)
  7. Weatherman (3:24)
  8. Riding Dust (1:45)
  9. The Beach (3:48)
  10. On the Other Side (3:45)
  11. Lorena The Sandals (3:24)
  12. Sharing Dust (2:33)
  13. A Pattern Developing / Silt (4:13)
  14. Coco's Corner (1:28)
  15. Baja Shadows (1:36)
  16. Night Visions (2:35)
  17. Open Terrain (4:28)
  18. Yes I Will Michael Franti (4:03)
  19. Not to Finish (1:10)
  20. One More Mile (3:40)
  21. The Dust (5:32)
  22. Once Knew You Jeremy Kay (4:38)