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STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS
Impressive but challenging score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Screen Media Films Inc.; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
Michael Convertino has had an on/off kind of career as a film composer, scoring just 33 films in two and a half decades - but some of those scores have attracted much attention and praise, such as Children of a Lesser God, Bed of Roses and (how's this for eclectic?) The Santa Clause. His background is in rock music, and he was part of the movement in the 1980s which is usually attributed largely to Thomas Newman which drove a lot of independent filmmakers to use ethereal soundscapes for dramatic pictures rather than anything resembling a traditional score. His latest film is the little-known WWII "horror" film Straight into Darkness directed by Jeff Burr.
Convertino's music is perhaps best-described as "hypnotic". It is an intriguing mixture of repeated synth pads, a handful of live, exotic instruments and what is essentially a choral plainchant. It is music which on first glance is hard to even notice, but with repeated listens seems to somehow grow new layers. The lengthy opening cue, "Crucible", sets the tone - without much seeming to happen, it somehow creates a trance-like atmosphere with its eerie strains, which is a very impressive feat for music written on what is obviously a very tight budget.
This is true with the rest of the score too, though no piece quite matches the opener's intensity. However, while it is not at all difficult to marvel at Convertino's skill in creating such an intense level of drama and tension in this manner, it is very difficult to derive a great deal of pleasure from it. This is often the case with scores such as this one (and perhaps Thomas Newman's recent war score, Jarhead, could be thrown into the same boat) - they add the perfect atmosphere to their movies, but for many people make awkward albums. Still, it's been a long time since we heard a new Convertino score, so it's pleasing that Citadel have released it, and I'm sure that those who do enjoy this kind of ambient soundscape will be impressed by the skill with which it has been assembled.