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Comments about the soundtrack for Thirteen Days (Trevor Jones)

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good review...
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• Posted by: A dissenting voice
• Date: Tuesday, September 30, 2008, at 1:57 p.m.
• IP Address:
• Now Playing: Flightplan (Horner)

I agree with virtually all of Christian's main points. However, I think this score still deserves a bit more credit than it has gotten, even here. In my opinion, this is Trevor Jones' career-best score, and nothing else is particularly close. Jones has always been good at coming up with dynamite main themes, but his underscore, to me, typically is either pretty weak or extremely derivative of his previous scores/other films. While his approach (long, drawn-out pieces that offer overall commentary while maintaining musical consistency) and instrumentational choices (a very, subtle and classy blend of orchestra and electronics) can't be faulted, Jones has a tendency to use a "template" scoring approach to most of his scores in the thriller/action/epic genres, with subtle string and synth tunes over a rhythmic harp or other base for suspense scenes, and loud, brash brass scherzos for action pieces, for instance. "Dark City" in particular looms as a score that would shape virtually all of his scores since - just listen to "Desperate Measures," and "Merlin" and you'll notice that the action music and the EWI contemplative/suspense themes are virtually identical through the three scores. "From Hell," "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," and "Aegis" (which draws heavily on the underrated "GI Jane") are also good examples of this.

What sets Thirteen Days apart is that it stays very much within Jones' established sound, yet with a much greater density to its action and suspense music and with very little reliance on Jones's previous scores. There is virtually no "noodling" - every note has critical dramatic purpose, and wastes no moment. Jones' Americana theme is one of his best and is a little more distinct than some of his others, while his War theme, heard in many action cues, literally drives the drama in many scenes of the film. The action music here is unparalleled in Jones's career, but what impresses the most is the phenomenal suspense music (one of the hardest types of film music to write well), which is detailed, apocalyptic and propulsive.

I've been disappointed of late of what I see as a certain sameness and predictability in Jones' scores, and so it's refreshing to revisit this legitimate masterpiece and be reminded that a composer can still produce phenomenal work without having to completely "reinvent the wheel" in terms of personal style - a comforting thought for this Horner fan!

You owe it to yourself to buy this score. It's the best score for a political thriller in the past 10 years.

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