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Comments about the soundtrack for The Insider (Gerrard/Bourke/Revell)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
• Posted by: Adam Holmberg   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Tuesday, August 5, 2008, at 5:25 p.m.
• IP Address: donated.filmtracks.com

(The following donated review by Adam Holmberg was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in August, 2008)


The Insider: (Lisa Gerrard, Pieter Bourke, and Graeme Revell) First off, the album cover neglects to mention the contribution of Graeme Revell to this album of music from the eighty million dollar Academy Award-nominated Michael Mann film that crashed and burned at the Box Office. However, since Revell contributed the weakest music to this album - tracks 9 through 11 - this oversight can be forgiven.

If I had to describe this album in one word, it would be eclectic. Like the score to Heat, Michael Mann's lush 1995 Los Angeles crime drama, there is really no theme to the score. Instead, the music was seemingly designed for one purpose, and one purpose alone - to fit the action in the film. In the film itself, tracks such as "Tempest," "Sacrifice," and "Meltdown" compliment their respective scenes perfectly, bringing an added element of depth to an already excellent film. One of the most effective sequences in the movie itself is scored by track twelve, "Iguazu" - an effective string piece that suggests both urgency and change. In the film, during the scene over which "Iguazu" is played, the main character, Jeffrey Wigant, must make a life-changing decision on whether or not to give testimony that could see him named a criminal. On screen, score and film mesh seamlessly.

So, how does it sound on CD? Does it work as well on the album as it does in the film? The answer is yes and no. Much of it does stand alone rather well - especially the Gerrard/Bourke pieces. "Dawn of the Truth," on its own, is a soothing combination of electronics that almost sound like vocals, and "Sacrifice" is filled with more electronics and strong, deep male vocals. In the film, "Sacrifice" represents Wigant's sacrifice - his family - to expose his information about the tobacco industry. Alone it is a good piece for meditation and relaxation - it is thoughtful, reflective, and, again, soothing. The only Gerrard/Bourke piece that does not stand well on its own is the first one, "Tempest" and only if you haven't seen the movie. It was used to score a car ride through the village surrounding a Middle Eastern terrorist's fortress in the film, and it is not unpleasant, but it repeats the same movement over-and-over again which can be annoying if one is not in the right mood.

Of the 16 tracks on the CD, 6 were not composed by Gerrard and Bourke. Of these 6, one is a song performed by Massive Attack (more on that later), three, as stated before, were composed by Graeme Revell, and track 14, "Rites" was performed by Jan Garbarek and is listed as a "special edit for the film." While I have no idea who Garbarek is, his contribution to the score is a welcome one - "Rites" is an eclectic yet relaxing mix of saxophone and light electronics. My one word description for it would be beautiful. Cliched? Perhaps, but it is just a pleasant track to listen to with the lights turned down, a cool drink in one hand, a book in the other. It's worth the entire CD.

Unfortunately, the other material by someone I do know isn't quite as good. Sure Revell's pieces work in the film itself, but on CD they're repetitive - quite literally the same notes played over and over again. It's one of those cases where it would have actually been good to leave them off the CD. "Iguazu" is the same type of thing - one set of notes played over and over again which works wonderfully in the film, but on CD, while not perfect, it is infinitely more listenable than Revell's pieces. Which brings us to the song. Usually, I find songs on score albums unwelcome just because, if I don't like the song, I don't want to take the time to program my stereo not to play it. However, this song by Massive Attack (who I have heard of but not heard until listening to this album), called "Safe From Harm" is quite good actually. While the lyrics really make the most sense if you've watched the film, the song stands well on its own because it is not a pop song and not intended to be a pop song. It actually does refer to events in the movie, and the music portion fits in well with the rest of the score while maintaining a nice beat.

As much as I'd like to, I can't give The Insider a five star rating due to the inclusion of the three dull tracks by Revell (did I mention, they were plopped in the middle of the album, making them almost impossible to ignore). The movie itself if excellent - worth more than one viewing - with great performances by Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer, and others and a great score. Unfortunately, the The Insider score album falls short of the film's excellence if only for the unnecessary inclusion of three bad tracks. ****






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