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Artwork copyright (c) 2005 Commotion Records, LLC; review copyright (c) 2005 James Southall



Low-key chillout music


I'd never heard a note of music composed by Nathan Larson before listening to this album; nor have I ever seen a film he's scored.  I doubt there are too many film composers around who have put out commercially-available compilation albums about whom I could say that - and that got me thinking - if I've never heard anything by him, given how much film music I listen to - I wonder just who is likely to be clamouring after an album of his music?  I'm not questioning for a minute the artistic decision to release the album, and I hope it does well for Mr Larson - I just can't quite work out who might be buying it!  There are a few well-known films here, such as Boys Don't Cry, Dirty Pretty Things and The Woodsman, but none which attracted particularly large audiences.

Still, that aside, is the music any good?  Well, yes and no.  I suppose if I were to compare it with anything, then it would be with the more low-key and non-orchestral scores by Carter Burwell and Thomas Newman.  This isn't big music, there aren't any memorable melodies really, it is film music designed to work through texture and atmosphere rather than emotion.  What it lacks, which those other composers bring to their scores, is any real feeling of drama: there is no sense whatsoever that this is film music, it just sounds like chilled out instrumental tracks.  Nothing wrong with that if it's what floats your boat, of course, but quite what relevance it may have as dramatic film music is unclear.

One problem (though some may think it's an advantage) is that the mood is simply never-changing.  As well as not being able to tell it's music from films at all, even with that knowledge you would certainly never guess that the music actually came from different films.  While there's a variety of different instruments used (the vast majority of which are performed by Larson himself), most tracks boil down to very low-key music featuring piano, guitar, percussion and accompaniment.  There are a couple of vocal tracks (again, performed by Larson) but even these don't interrupt the mood very much.  This is a pretty impressive album of low-key, chilled out music, but I don't think film score fans will be the primary purchasers and I can't really say it would inspire me to rush out and buy other albums by the composer.

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  1. Prozac Nation: Prozac (3:01)
  2. Boys Don't Cry: Boys (1:11)
  3. Phone Booth: Operator (1:40)
  4. Tigerland: Tigerland (4:30)
  5. Prozac Nation: You Can Take What's Left Of Me (2:59)
  6. Lilja 4-Ever: Night Basketball (:42)
  7. Storytelling: Fiction (2:05)
  8. Boys Don't Cry: A Softer Night (1:09)
  9. I Want Someone Badly (3:02)
  10. Prozac Nation: The Fawn (1:23)
  11. Boys Don't Cry: Small Town Jail (:57)
  12. Lilja 4-Ever: Mommy, Are Angels Dead? (1:04)
  13. High Art: She Might be Waking Up (2:46)
  14. The Chateau: Le Pont de la Tristesse (1:03)
  15. High Art: Mom's Mercedes (3:15)
  16. Prozac Nation: Balcony (:37)
  17. Dirty Pretty Things: Dirty Pretty Thing (1:42)
  18. Dirty Pretty Things: Departure Lounge (2:28)
  19. High Art: Last Lines (2:26)
  20. The Woodsman: Walter (2:23)
  21. Prozac Nation: Something Like Love (3:32)
  22. Boys Don't Cry: Rape and a Burning Polaroid (1:21)