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Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Village

Artist: Hilary Hahn / James Newton Howard (Composer)
Album: The Village Soundtrack
Genre: Classical / Violin Instrumental

1. Noah Visits (2:35)
2. What Are You Asking Me? (6:01)
3. The Bad Color (3:57)
4. Those We Don't Speak Of (3:59)
5. Will You Help Me? (2:34)
6. I Cannot See His Color (1:31)
7. Rituals (2:01)
8. The Gravel Road (4:31)
9. Race to Resting Rock (1:16)
10. The Forbidden Line (2:17)
11. The Vote (6:03)
12. It Is Not Real (3:36)
13. The Shed Not to be Used (2:03)

Download (Mediafire)

The Village is M. Night Shyamalan's fourth film and also his fourth collaboration with composer James Newton Howard. Although The Sixth Sense still is the composer's best score for a Shyamalan film, the score for The Village is a very strong composition, better than Unbreakable and just as good as Signs, if not better. Like the scores for the three previous films, The Village is dominated by soft underscore rather than big themes.

The Village is set in the state of Pennsylvania towards the end of the 19th Century and to reflect this musically, Howard uses violin solos performed by Hilary Hahn throughout the score. Not that the sound per se is typical of those days, but Howard manages to create a somewhat "dated" sound in parts of the score. One example is the opening track on the CD, "Noah Visits", which opens with a quiet violin solo, which after a short time gets more lively, with quick descending and ascending figures backed up by soft strings, all ending with a sudden bang.

Piano solos, performed by Randy Kerber, are also used in a couple of tracks, and when they're coupled with Hahn's violin solos, supported by soft orchestral writing, as in "What are you Asking Me?", the result is excellent. It won't blow you away, but succeeds in setting the tone really well. Flutes, chimes and subtle electronics are used throughout the score to create a very windy, airy quality - "The Bad Color" for example and together with the violin solos this creates a sound reminiscent of parts of the composer's score for Snow Falling on Cedars. "I Cannot See His Color" is a real highlight with some amazing violin solos dominated by the quick ascending and descending figures, supported by strings. Short but outstanding. I really cannot emphasize how effective Howard's use of the violin is in this score. It's one of the score's cornerstones and the sound he creates using it together with the orchestra is just amazing. The rythmic figures sometimes has an almost hypnotic effect, reminiscent at times of Philip Glass's music, while the more lyrical passages, like in "The Gravel Road" and "The Vote" is simply breathtaking.

The score's first real suspense cue is the tense "Those We Don't Speak Of", which brings percussion and brass to the mix, although ending on a rather optimistic note, with some beautiful music performed by violin and piano. It gets more frightening towards the end of the CD, however, with some dissonant brass and strings in "The Forbidden Line", getting even more chaotic in "It is Not Real". But The Village is surprisingly not dominated by these kind of orchestral outbursts, which is usually the case with scores for movies like The Village.

The Village is without doubt one of the more interesting scores of 2004 so far and as I listen to it closely, with the volume turned up, while writing this review I realize how incredibly beautiful, layered and effective it really is.

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