Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Saturday February 1, 2020 


CD Soundtrack Review
By Lynden Barber

It's surprising that producer-musicians from the Brian Eno school of minimalist atmospherics such as as Canadians Michael Brook and Daniel Lanois don't have a substantial body of film music behind them . Maybe they're just too busy with their other projects.

"Creates strong effects with a few simple, well-placed brushstrokes, creating a moody ambience"

Nevertheless fate has decreed that a couple of films recently in Australian cinemas have carried Brook and Lanois soundtracks, and extremely effective they are too. The Lanois was for the Billy Bob Thornton film Sling Blade, while Brook's work was heard in Kevin Spacey's directorial debut Albino Alligator, an intense New Orleans hostage drama. On CD, Brook's Alligator music (note the title, which tells us some of it was "inspired'' by the film) makes for a pleasurable listen. Using small groups of musicians, Brook creates strong effects with a few simple, well-placed brushstrokes, creating a moody ambience flecked by hints of blues and New Orleans rhythm.

Much of it doesn't "go anywhere" of course, but then that is partly the point - this is music that tends to affect the listener's mood in an almost subliminal manner - which is why it worked so well in the film. My favourite tracks are "Albo Gator", where a hazily opium-like oriental flavour is achieved with the aid of tuned percussion (gongs, water-filled metal containers?) and a few lines of dialogue (not used on any other tracks, incidentally), and "The Promise", in which vibraphone and electric keyboards weave together to create an effect similar to the early work of minimalist composers Terry Riley and Steve Reich. Everything here is instrumental apart from final track "Ill Wind", featuring REM's Michael Stipe on vocals and co-written by Ted Koehler and Harold Arlen. Recommended to fans of Ry Cooder's soundtrack work.

Email this article

The Film

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: August 28, 1997 - all capitals, except
Melbourne: Sept 25


Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020