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Thursday, December 14, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Departed

The Departed
Music by Howard Shore
Silva Screen Records SILCD1225 (U.K.)
14 Tracks 41:50 mins

I had never been a great fan of Howard Shore's music, that was until I heard his magnificent scores for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but now and again he has come up with something that catches my attention, and this is definitely the case with his latest offering for Martin Scorsese's remake of the Hong Kong classic thriller Infernal Affairs, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and the great Jack Nicholson. I haven't seen the film, but assuming it follows more or less the same plotline as the original, it basically tells parallel stories of two cops, one a mole in a crime gang, the other a mole in the force for the same gang.
As Shore explains in the brief liner notes, Scorsese came up with the idea of using a tango "to portray the nature of the deadly game being played," and basically the whole score is infused with the same rhythms, either variations on the "Departed Tango," or, in the case of "Madoly," a new tango theme.
As such the score is basically voiced by guitars of all kinds, whether acoustic or electric, with New York guitarists Sharon Isbin, G.E. Smith, Larry Saltzman and Marc Ribot turning in excellent work. The "Departed Tango" really is an great piece of driving drama, and is given it's head on a number of occasions, sometimes with strings, drums and percussion getting behind the guitar soloists, and sometimes purely for guitars. It's one of those tunes that is instantly memorable and sticks firmly in the brain, repeating for ages after the disc has stopped spinning.
In addition to the main theme, there are also poignant and tragic moments, Like "Beacon Hill," "Billy's Theme," and "The Last Rites," though the latter ends in the same wailing electric guitar as is first presented in "344 Wash."
A fabulous score then and, at just over 40 minutes, it never outstays its welcome. Highly recommended!


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