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Whispers in the Dark
  • Composed by Thomas Newman
  • Intrada / 2012 / 50:02

An erotic thriller starring Annabella Sciorra, Whispers in the Dark is largely forgotten today, twenty years after its release.  Sciorra plays a psychiatrist who is disturbed by a patient’s tales of violent sexual encounters with a man, only to discover that the man in question is in fact her own new boyfriend.  Thomas Newman was making a name for himself – and firmly emerging from his father’s shadow – at the time after a few years of scoring comedies and thrillers.  In the same year as this film would come one of his real breakthroughs with Robert Altman’s The Player.  Newman is known as having one of the most distinctive – and indeed influential – voices of all modern film composers, having established a sound in his scores that is completely unlike that of any previous film composer’s.  It’s amazing how firmly-rooted that sound already was at this comparatively early point in his career, with Whispers in the Dark displaying many of the traits of the more famous scores that would follow in his very successful career.

The album’s first four cues offer a very nice summary of the score as a whole.  The hypnotic opening title music is vintage Newman – piano and percussion seeming to float effortlessly around, dreamlike.  “Making Love” presents a gorgeous string theme, warm and comforting.  Then comes the score’s key contrast, in “Dangerous Sex”, when the composer goes into very dark territory, described in Brian Satterwhite’s excellent, incisive liner notes as being “punctuated with spasms of violence.”  The mood changes again in “I Thought I was the Gentlest Man”, which introduces a glorious new oboe theme, a real beauty which Newman fans will recognise from its later reuse in Angels in America.  The fine album progresses as a finely-woven tapestry from those four main ingredients, Newman adding in a particularly effective middle section (there is disturbing dissonance in “The Torture” and “The Ledge”, amongst the darkest music the composer’s ever done).  This album from Intrada is the score’s first release – the soundtrack album planned at the time of the film was cancelled – and it’s a real treat – a smart, serious, grown-up score from Hollywood’s foremost provider of those.  **** |

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  1. Lucas (Reply) on Monday 25 June, 2012 at 18:35

    Portions of it sound much like John Barry and Patrick Doyle’s on thriller mode. It reminded me particularly of Killing me Softly and Body Heat: