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  • true_bloodComposed by Nathan Barr
  • Varese Sarabande 302 066 984 2¬†/ 2009 / 44:41

Alan Ball’s True Blood is one of my favourite things on CD at the moment.¬† With compelling characters, lots and lots of plot surprises (none of which feels forced or unnatural, unlike most tv) – and lots and lots of graphic sex, violence and gore – how could you go wrong!?¬† Music for the series is by Nathan Barr – in all senses – since he doesn’t just compose it, he also performs it all (on cello, piano, acoustic guitar and bowed electric guitar, with some synths).¬† The show is set in the deep south and there is a hint of that in the music – the music’s got soul – but generally it’s just very fine dramatic underscore.¬† If recent years have proven anything, it’s that anyone with a good enough computer and team of orchestrators can write film scores¬†for a 100-piece orchestra and 50-piece choir – not necessarily good film scores, but film scores all the same.¬† It’s much harder to do it for a very small ensemble like this – if you don’t have the chops for it, you’ll be ruthlessly exposed.

There is nothing straightforward about True Blood the show, so there isn’t about the score either.¬† The love theme is tinged with an incredible uncertainty; the more chilling vampire music has a heart beating underneath it; the tumultuous relationship between Tara (the strongest female character on tv?) and her mother gets an incredibly beautiful theme.¬† The album actually opens with a gorgeous song by Barr, sung by Lisbeth Scott, “Take Me Home” – heartmeltingly beautiful, and entirely in keeping with the score.¬†¬†There’s a wonderful track called “Grieve to Grave to Groove” which does everything its name implies¬†– wonderful scoring.¬† Everything sounds so organic, so natural – this is seriously impressive scoring.¬† Like most tv music, maybe it wouldn’t appeal so much to a non-viewer (I don’t know, since I’m a viewer) – for me, it’s so evocative, so luxuriously enveloping, I haven’t heard much more impressive music in a film this year, let alone on television. ¬†Roll on the second season’s album!¬† ****

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