- Composed by Mark Isham
- Lakeshore Records / 2011 / 54:13
A well-received film about Mixed Martial Arts (not a subject about which I can claim a great deal of expertise), Gavin O’Connor’s movie stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton as two estranged brothers who end up fighting each other and Nick Nolte as their alcoholic father. The prolific Mark Isham continues his relationship with the director. He has scored a few sports movies in his time, including O’Connor’s Miracle, but this is a darker piece entirely. The music features some of the inspirational style associated with the genre (albeit not the usual instrumentation), but also a lot of intense music of pain and anguish, making an intriguing, largely successful album.
It opens with the slightly odd, but very effective, “Listen to the Beethoven”, where an electronic “Ode to Joy” is gradually filtered through dark dramatic music. (It’s better than I’ve made it sound.) More typical is the ambient “Paddy and Tommy” which follows. The score is very synth-heavy (though there is some orchestra) and Isham keeps it very simple and direct in this track, without even the slightest hint of warmth in the synthetic soundscape; by contrast the very lengthy “Sparta – Night One” which follows goes through a gamut of feelings, with fighting highs and lows reflected in the music, this time electric guitars and drums added to the ensemble. Isham’s a composer who is able to generate real feelings from his electronic music – not really all that common in film music – and I find this to be a soothing, rewarding album. Not for everyone, certainly, but fans of the Crash / In the Valley of Elah style will enjoy it. *** 1/2