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MADISON (2001)

Music by Kevin Kiner with original themes by Christopher Young.

22 Tracks (Playing Time = 53:41)

Album produced by Kevin Kiner and Mark Evans. Orchestrations by Nic Raine and Kevin Kiner. Music performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nic Raine. Music edited and mixed by Mark Evans. Digitally edited and mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland. Art direction by Mark Banning.

BSX Records BSXCD 885

Limited edition of 1000 copies.

Rating: ***1/2

If you are looking for a film about hydro-planes then MADISON, directed by William Bindley, is your film. For the rest of us, MADISON will be of interest because of its star James Caveizel before he was Jesus, and for the slightly older Jake Lloyd after his work in THE PHANTOM MENACE. Though made several years ago and premiering at the Sundance Film Festival (2001), MADISON only recently was picked up by Columbia Tristar and MGM for distribution. It had a brief run in late April of last year in selected theaters. Kevin Kiner was asked to provide a score using themes composed by Christopher Young which he admits was a daunting task at first but the thematic material evidently lent itself to easy and inspiring musical adaptation. That adaptation turns out to have a lot going for it.

Kiner has received many accolades for his television work on projects like CSI: MIAMI and WALKER, TEXAS RANGER. Some might recall seeing his name attached to the abysmal WING COMMANDER (1999) which paired him with James Newton Howard and featured themes by David Arnold. It is territory that suggests Kiner has been a part of projects where higher names have bailed, or gave up trying to be the saviors of the film. My sense is that his opportunity here is a far better one allowing him to provide action cues, as well as dramatic underscoring for a film that is in that labor of love category. MADISON is one of those scores though where the beauty of its themes and its orchestration all but makes you forget that this is a film score. It is harder to give full credit where it is due though the music will make you forget about it.

The opening title track has the light sound of a 1970s John Barry score complete with a little jaunty theme, perhaps a fingerprint of Nic Raine. If you can imagine that mixed with the kind of heroic thematic writing of Jerry Goldsmith, even David Arnold via STARGATE (1994) or INDEPENDENCE DAY (1996), you will begin to get a sense for what is about to unfold in this uplifting score. Young’s themes remind one that his melodic skills are similar to those of Jerry Goldsmith’s. They play out in long lines with elegant turns of phrase and harmony. Kiner’s music in “Mayor Draws Plan” is one track that illustrates these various sound “influences” the best. It incorporates the primary theme, a brief jaunty section, and the kind of ebb and flow scoring that sounds like John Barry “imitating” Jerry Goldsmith. None of it sounds imitative because it flows naturally out of the score’s individual sound. However, if you are a fan of either composer you will truly enjoy the music on this disc. The turns of harmony may be one of Kiner’s stylistic additions since they are evident throughout the score and always catch the listener off guard, delightfully so in “Stealing/Porch.” As we move on to the big race, the music does a fine job of pulling at the emotions without hitting the listener over the head. The race sequences are finely accomplished with just the right amounts of excitement and frustration as the sequence unfolds over the course of the final few tracks culminating in “Victory.”

The orchestra here is the one used by Silva for many of its film music compilations. Some may not know that the orchestra is oft used in Europe as a prime recording location for new film scores. They are in fine form here though the overall acoustic is a bit drier than in some of their more ambient Silva and European releases. The solo performances are all masterful interpretations worthy of any Hollywood studio orchestra. Those who stray away from the Silva discs for whatever reason need not hesitate here. Once again, BSX has brought out an excellent release worthy of a hearing. For those missing wonderful thematic writing that engages you from the moment you hear it, with a full orchestral sound, MADISON is a score that you should treat yourself to instead of settling for the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

 

--Steven A. Kennedy, 11 January 2006

Comments regarding this review can be sent to this address: stev4uth@hotmail.com

 

 

 

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