Film Music Review
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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)






Music composed and produced by Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna

16 Tracks (Playing Time = 44:32)


Score conducted and orchestrated by Nicholas Dodd. Score performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra. Additional arrangements by Rob Simonsen. Electronic music programming by Russ Howard, III. Drums and percussion programming by Russ Miller. Music edited by Tom Kramer. Score recorded and mixed by Brad Haehnel at Toss-AO Scoring Stage, Radford. Score mixed at Glenwood Place Studios. Artwork by Damien Doherty.

Silva Screen Records 1243

Rating: **


I have to admit forgetting all about this crime drama/thriller starring Anthony Hopkins which came and went last April. The score is by the brothers Danna, who last provided as good a score as one could have expected for 2006’s horrible Gilliam film, TIDELAND. That score turned out to be the best part of that film which may also be the case for FRACTURE.

“The Rube” opens the disc with a gentle piano line and Herrmann-esque strings that in their updated sound tend to generally feel like a dramatic thriller score by Danny Elfman. A primary difference in the Danna’s approach is that their harmonic ideas seem happen through the layering of individual musical lines rather than by richly-scored chords. The harmonic ambiguity lends the orchestral writing a melancholic sensibility as the thematic idea tends to slip in and out of major and minor tonal areas much like other work by Mychael Danna. Dark arpeggiated strings serve to increase the tension in this more traditionally scored score moments. Soon though we slide into ambient dissonance in “You’re Home Early.” Here the score’s thematic ideas seem to slide in and out of the multi-layered dissonant texture with a pounding, almost heart-beat like, bass guitar that seems to foreshadow whenever the more sinister sounds occur.

The drum machines eventually appear in “Beachum” signaling contemporary life or forward moving action, a sound that is almost cliché now for characters driving somewhere. The richer string sounds try to enter into this material but their intricate arpeggio ideas serve only to bring us back into a more realistic soundworld. “Objection” seems already a far cry from the opening track sounding more like something out of an Isham score or even a Powell action track. That either Danna can create this sound is I suppose good to know if you want either of them to write a typical Hollywood score.

But the real strengths of FRACTURE lie in the orchestration and the subtlety of the Danna’s take. When the gentle flute line appears in “Call Me Later” we hear another example of the lyric quality of a theme scored with greater subtlety. When the score is able to gently reveal dramatic situations it is at its best. Otherwise it is forced to be derivative to deliver what is needed by the temp track suggestion or director’s wishes. The layers of electronic instrumentation, or the shift away from the traditional orchestral score, create the proper contemporary mood for the film even if it turns out to be generally less interesting than the moments when the motivic fragments are allowed to weave in and out of the orchestral texture. There are some nice touches throughout, the Danna’s are after all both accomplished composers, but the thing that makes there music unique seems to have taken a back seat to much of what exists here. It is a well-crafted score that serves its picture perhaps better than the music can on its own as an album. While tracks tend to be more than a minute in length, they don’t really get to move or breath musically. When we get to the nearly 7 minute “I Decide When it Gets Pulled” we can hear the way the various threads begin to come together in an extended sequence, but the problem is that it often comes across as dramatic mickey-mousing. There is a lot of ominous brass pulses set against a steady pulse that shift back to the piano arpeggio and small thematic idea, but things tend to drive towards a climax created more by adding more noise and instruments than by anything that makes larger musical sense.

In some sense, then, the score to FRACTURE, suffers when it starts to crack into either of the two sound areas informed by the picture (something which shows up towards the end of the disc in “Suicide”). The more experimental tracks (tame here even by Danna standards) create appropriate tension but don’t feel as if they are really able to go anywhere. Perhaps the saddest thing is that even at its worst moments, FRACTURE still is a solid B-picture thriller score that does its best to support a typical thriller plot. The final track, “New Trial,” provides an interesting conclusion that returns us to the sound world that opened the CD with flashes of hope that give way to more despairing conclusion.

This score was originally available from New Line last spring as a digital download only and now comes to us on this clear, though at times bass heavy, recording from Silva with what might be an additional minute or so of music (though the timing might be incorrect on the download page).

--Steven A. Kennedy, 10 October 2007

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