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
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.