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Sunday, February 25, 2007

CD REVIEW - Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider
Music by Christopher Young
Varese Sarabande 302 066 782 2 (USA)
15 Tracks 58:36 mins

Opening in the UK on March 2nd is Columbia Pictures' live-action treatment of the Marvel comic book character Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage as the fiery, motorcycling crime fighter.
For the film, Christopher Young, a veteran of horror/thriller/fantasy scoring, has written a huge score, featuring orchestra, choir, drums and electric guitars, the latter courtesy of two members of the band Nine Inch Nails. The guitars haven't sat well with some critics, but it is a valid approach that has been used before (Kull The Conqueror) and will shortly feature again in Tyler Bates' similarly epic 300, and seems highly appropriate (we are talking about a biker hero here after all).
The album gets under way with Young's main theme, which starts out fatefully with powerful choir and then continues highly propulsively. His secondary theme is a "bad-ass" figure for drums and electric guitars, often thrown into the action mix, of which there is plenty, with "Blackheart Beat, "More Sinister Than Popcorn," and "Nebuchadnezzar Phase," being the pick. There's some powerful writing for all kinds of combinations, including some great choral work and some really barbaric brass; whilst the latter starts out with a fine dark march.
But it's not action all the way. Quieter moments are few, but telling, including the tender acoustic guitar of "A Thing For Karen Carpenter, with passionate strings joining in "Serenade to a Daredevil's Devil." And "Penance Stare," becomes almost spiritual, but has guitar embellishments, both acoustic and electric.
There is a south of the border feel to some of the music, culminating in the fabulous showdown at the start of "San Vengaza" - all strummed guitars and passionate deguello-like trumpet solo.
Young reintroduces his main theme to conclude the album in rousing fashion.
I don't expect to find any electric guitars in Young's forthcoming score for Spider-Man 3, but am looking forward to seeing how much of Danny Elfman's thematic material he adapts, alongside what I am sure will be some exciting writing of his own.


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