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Sunday, October 12, 2008


Babylon A.D.
Music by Atli Orvarsson
Varese Sarabande VSD 6925 (EU)
23 Tracks 57:50 mins

Composer Atli Orvarsson first came to attention with a serviceable score for the thriller Vantage Point. He has now scored the recent Vin Diesel starrer Babylon A.D., a sci-fi actioner that has received decent reviews.
With Hans Zimmer as Executive Producer, it's not surprising to find the score is a mix of live performers and electronics, the latter programmed by the composer himself, who also handles the trumpet and piano parts.
The opening track on the album is "Aurora's Theme (Agnus Dei)," the title of which gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect, and features the haunting vocals of Thorhildur Orvarsdottir. This is followed by the increasingly powerful choral "Babylon Requiem," with "Aurora Borealis" continuing in weighty fashion. "Leaving The Monastery" moves along excitingly; with "The Cold Walk" again returning to weighty territory, enhanced by choir and moving to a steady beat. Action then bursts forth in "Too Many Refugees," culminating in another weighty choral, before turning dissonant and threatening. "Aurora and Toorop" brings a pianistic calm to proceedings, which is only too brief, as more menace follows in "Snow Travel" and the exciting action of "Rover Chase." Weightiness returns, along with choir, for "Entering New York City," and the awe-filled opening of "Skyscraper." The dissonant "The Marketplace" introduces a new element in the score, that of throat singing, as it gradually builds to a percussive climax. Another quiet interlude follows in "Toorop Is Home," featuring a brief reprise of the Agnus Dei, as well as material from "Aurora and Toorop."
The next track of note is the suitably propulsive "Train Travel," which is followed by the ominous "Are You Afraid To Die?" The Kyrie returns in "Are You A Killer, Mr. Toorop?"before the score descends into plenty of dark dissonance in the tracks that follow.
The penultimate track is an alternative, shorter, version of "Leaving The Monastery;" with the closing "One Child At A Time," flirting with the Kyrie to bring the album to a low-key conclusion.
To sum it up, this score is something of a mixed bag to listen to on album. There are some fine moments, particularly when the choir is involved, but also much dissonance, and it all falls away somewhat in the final tracks. Still, the composer continues to show promise, and I look forward to hearing what he will come up with next.


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