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Monday, February 01, 2010


Music by John Frizzell
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1121 (US)
25 Tracks 51:13 mins

I've just finished watching Kate Beckinsale (always a pleasure!) in Whiteout on DVD, which had a very capable score by John Frizzell that pushed all the right buttons. I haven't seen his latest, Legion, but wish I could be as enthusiastic, even if I can only base my opinions on the CD.
Scott Stewart's film certainly has an interesting premise, with God deciding that the human race is no longer worthy of Him and deciding to end their existence. I thought to myself, this could be epic stuff from Frizzell - but then I read on to find that all of the action is set in an out-of-the-way diner and I guess much of the epicness kind of went out of the window.
For his score, Frizzell made much use of strings and low brass, with no woodwinds or trumpets present in his orchestra, allied to electronic elements he calls "frozen sounds," which the composer explains are achieved by "taking one or two second audio files of different instruments and stretching them to 30 seconds or more using various audio processing software. After processing these sounds through various plug-ins/outboard gear, I end up with what feels both electronic, yet very human and expressive at the same time, perhaps the sonic equivalent of the 'uncanny valley', yet intentionally created." I hope all that means something to you technically minded types out there.
Paul Bettany plays an archangel on the side of the humans and Frizzell wrote the music around his voice (don't worry there's no dialogue on the CD), saying that "Paul's way of expressing dialogue has an innate sense of rhythm and fluidity that practically makes the words feel like an instrument. In many key scenes, I felt like I was arranging around another musical aspect of the film."
So what of all this? What is the music actually like? Well, things start off with a bang at the opening of "When I Was a Little Girl," so much so that it is likely to knock you off your seat. Choir makes an appearance at the propulsive conclusion of "Michael Descends," though not with any great import; the propulsiveness continuing into "It's Started," ticking along quietly at first, with dissonant interruptions leading to a more ''in your face' conclusion." There's a good deal of dissonance to be found in subsequent tracks, and that "ticking" quality I mentioned before at times keeps things moving onwards in a quietly threatening manner.
"Old and Pissed Off" provides a rare moment for reflection, as does the melancholy "Bob Blames Himself;" with the tender piano of "I Didn't Even Want This Baby" adding a touch of sentiment.
"Clouds Don't Buzz" provides some excitement and other tracks that feature notable action include "They're Here," again with choir featuring at its conclusion; the brief but powerful "Attack of the Possessed;" "Dark World;" "Open the Door;" and "The Battle," which has a weightiness about it.
"Die Like One of Them" continues the weighty mood, and is the first time we hear the choir ascend to Heavenly heights; whilst the penultimate track, "You are the True Protector," achieves something of a feeling of redemption, with its gentle piano solo. The final cue 0ffers an alternate version of the cue, which is less subtle, though still ends with the same solo piano.
All in all, the score does have its moments, and is certainly a notch or two above many of the genre scores I have been hearing recently; but I feel it could have done with more prominence from the choral forces. It might then have reached something of the epic quality I was hoping for.
Accompanying the disc is the usual colourful booklet, with character portraits, a brief synopsis, and notes from both the composer and director Stewart.
Go to to check out some samples and to order your copy now.


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