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SCENES OF THE CRIME
and A CHILD'S GAME
Pair of obscure Young thriller scores see the light of day on CD, make for enjoyable experience
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * *
Scenes of the
A Child's Game:
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Christopher Young; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall
It's interesting how sometimes top composers end up working on films which are completely low-profile, a case in point being Christopher Young and the 2001 thriller Scenes of the Crime, which he scored because it was directed by Dominique Forma, the music supervisor who got him his first meaty dramatic film to score, Murder in the First, a few years earlier. I'm afraid I can't tell you much about the film except that it stars Jeff Bridges and is about a young man who gets caught up in mob business, and that it went straight to DVD in America (and hasn't even done that over here in the UK).
In the event Young didn't quite have time to do the score by himself, so he collaborated with his assistant and occasional orchestrator Gernot Wolfgang, and now their score is available for the first time, as an 18-minute single-track suite on this CD from BSX Records. It's a good way of presenting the music, which is dominated by modern sounds (electric guitar, drums, synths) but does feature a small orchestra too. It sees Young in "funky mode", though is more dramatic than something like Wonder Boys. There is an edge to the jazzy moments, and they contrast well with the more conventional string-led suspense passages. The suite is edited together very nicely and makes for a satisfying listen.
Being so short, Scenes of the Crime couldn't sustain a CD by itself, so BSX and Young (surely the most active film composer at trying to get his music out to his fans) have also included just over half an hour of demo material he wrote for the film A Child's Game, which he had to leave due to the film overrunning and so conflicting with another he was working on (the film was eventually retitled Hide and Seek and scored by John Ottman). Young mentions in his liner notes that this is the first time any of his music has been released in this fashion, and I would guess it's probably the first time any film score has been - this is not in any sense his complete score for it, but is a mixture of mock-ups of entire cues and ideas for themes that were meant to be realised by a full orchestra.
Clearly it would be preferable to hear it performed as intended, but it is still fascinating to hear the genesis of what sounds like it would have been a very fine thriller score. In addition to the synths, there is a female vocal solo (performed by Tiff Jimber) which contributes to the excellent atmosphere, and in truth Young's electronics are probably more expensive than most people's symphony orchestras and technology has advanced to the stage where when they're this good, it doesn't take away from the experience as much as it would have done at one time. The score mixes in childlike innocence, in the form of the lullaby-style main theme, not to mention a number of music box themes, with broody suspense - the composer is excellent at this sort of thing, and it's nice to hear another example of the style. This is a fascinating album - not top-drawer Christopher Young by any means, but it shows his skills at crafting a compelling dramatic score from very scant resources (in Scenes of the Crime) and shows us what might have been with another score, music most people - even the composer's biggest fans - probably weren't even aware of. Be quick though - only 1,000 copies have been made available.