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Fine set of themes is worn incredibly thin over lengthy, repetitive album
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 The Weinstein Company; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
2006's "other" film about Kazakhstan, apart from the monumentally successful Borat, was the barely-seen Nomad. It tells the story of one of the ancient nation's most famous military heroes, Erali, and positions itself (and has been reviewed) as a sprawling historical epic. The score was provided by little-known Italian composer Carlo Siliotto and, despite being by a somewhat obscure composer and for a completely obscure film, got nominated for a Golden Globe. At the time of the nominations, few film score fans had even heard of the film, let alone heard its score - but thanks to this release from Varese Sarabande, there is now the opportunity to do so.
In decades past, a film like this (financed by American money) would have been scored by someone like Maurice Jarre, and indeed Siliotto has adopted an approach almost identical to those taken by Jarre in his various exotic epics - resolutely western music played by a standard symphony orchestra, embellished by ethnic instrumentation playing western melodies. It's an approach that served Jarre well throughout his career, and it does so for Siliotto here as well. This score's great strength is the sweeping pomp of its main themes, of which there are about three or four.
These are delightful creations - simplistic, perhaps, but emotionally direct and summing up the adventure very well. One is slightly more playful (surprisingly so, for a film of this type, but it certainly works); and one more action-dominated, occasionally complete with what sound like throat singers adding their unique ornamentation. The trouble is, for the undoubted quality of these themes, the album essentially consists of those three or four pieces being repeated over and over and over again with virtually no variation - something you might get away with on one of those 8-track, 30-minute albums which dominated the market a decade ago, but which leaves the lack of breadth inherent in the material brutally-exposed on a 33-track, 71-minute album such as this one.
Despite its problems, it is all perfectly pleasant, and fans of those great old Jarre scores will be able to make a good 30-minute highlights package which would be incomparably more satisfying than the challenging experience of listening to the same pieces of music time and again. I can certainly see why many have lapped up this music but, even with the quality of the core material, it's still all just a little too generic and simplistic for my tastes. Recommended, then - but with reservations.