Latest reviews of new albums:
  • undergroundComposed by Stuart Hancock
  • moviescore media MMS-09012 / 2009 / 43:26

Stuart Hancock opens his brief lines notes for Underground with the sentence: “Never underestimate the power of a good theme in a film score.”  Unfortunately, most filmmakers these days seem to; but evidently the director of this film doesn’t fall into that category.  Because Underground has a good theme; a very good one.Hancock throws it through numerous variations over the course of his score; but perhaps it is at its best in the bold, brassy, ballsy, Bill Conti-style version which opens the album.  Such a memorable theme is the last thing one expects to hear in a film like this (about a fight tournament) so its appearance is most welcome.  Some of the variations send it to very different places, too – it’s good to hear a composer take a piece like this and actually do something with it.

That’s not the only unexpected thing in the score – a film with this kind of story, and an album with this kind of cover, is not necessarily the place you’d expect to find a five-minute “Intermezzo”; and the beautiful piano piece is surprisingly touching.  The scoring of the actual fight scenes is much grungier – percussion and jabbing strings dominate (but that theme does crop up now and again).  It’s pretty effective stuff.  Indeed, this is a thoroughly enjoyable album – uncomplicated but satisfying.  Sometimes listeners really aren’t looking for any more than that; and to them, it’s recommended.  ***

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