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Larry Groupe is one of the newest (and one of the most talented) composers in the film world, composing exciting underscore for several independent films, as well as a symphonic poem which had its first performance in May of 1999.  Unfortunately, the music budget of these films is practically nil, so Groupe is forced to relegate his orchestral music to synthesizers.  But that small caveat definitely should not Deter (no pun intended) score fans from discovering Groupe's little-known talent, since the composer utilizes the most realistic synthesizers heard to this point - although the brass retain their typical synthesized tone color, the strings and piano sound remarkably like their real-world counterparts, truly simulating a full orchestra.  Deterrence is one of Groupe's best, based around a collection of motives all found in the first track, called The Dark March.  This score is remarkably dark in tone, and a few sections conjure images of Mark Snow's X-Files TV work, particularly the gloomy synthesized strings.  Those interested in purchasing this disc should go to Larry Groupe's web page, at  http://www.pacificarts.com/groupe .  It should be noted that this is a self-produced CDR, but retains very professional packaging, a note from the director, etc.  As a final note, this album has the complete 50 minute score.

UPDATE: As of the last quarter of 2000, Deterrence has been released commercially by Citadel Records, coupled with Groupe's full orchestral score to The Contender.  The only difference in presentation is that the track order has been rearranged.



Track by Track Analysis
1. Main Title (The Dark March) (3:05)
The highlight of Deterrence is by far The Dark March, which introduces all of the main themes and motives.  It opens with an ambient drum cadence, followed by the introduction of a short motif in the low brass, which leads into the main theme.  Drum cadences abound, making the composition sound like a warped national anthem (which, given the content of the film, was probably intentional.)  There are several sections to the march, and most will be used individually later.  Groupe introduces one of the main techniques to be heard throughout the score - gothic minor chords on strings.  However, a swift horn glissando leads back to the main theme, and Groupe brings his piece to a rollicking resolution.

2. Enter Mr. President (1:13)
The bulk of this cue is made of a minor scale descent with woodwind glissandi, which leads into a slower march section based somewhat on the main theme.  The track ends with a slower presentation of the main march.

3. Report In (2:47)
This track represents the orchestration found in most of the proceeding cues - the gothic low string chords used to build tension.  Eventually, a solo woodwind enters on top of the other strings, introducing a new melody.  A final cadence ends the track.

4. Decision 1 (1:26)
In this cue, Groupe takes his gothic strings one step further and adds a foreboding percussion cadence.

5. Mr. Prime Minister (1:14)
In this, one of the better cues, Groupe continues his foreboding low string approach, outlining the main theme.  This becomes one of the most fascinating aspects of this score - while he continually uses the gothic string chords, the music remains interesting as a listening experience because of the alternating melodies, moods, rhythms, and, as the next cue shows us, time signatures.

6. Contemplation (1:15)
Another highlight is "Contemplation," which is a haunting dark waltz with strings, piano, and acoustic guitar.  The melody is slightly based on the main theme.

7. The Speech (2:04)
Groupe composes another minor chord string track, this time a fantasia based on the ever-versatile Dark March.  A second section has a snare drum line, and Groupe creates a paradox by including a noble major-key trumpet fanfare play over the gloomy, depressing strings.

8. We Attack (:48)
This opens with several striking string notes with drums, and segues into another dance-like section - now in 2/4 time.

9. Gambling Vs. Certainty (1:16)
It begins with more of the minor chords, has a tender piano line in the middle, and fades out to more chords.

10. The Omari Phone Call (2:50)
Another interesting fantasia on the Dark March, now with synth effects.  The syncopated string line is the centerpiece here, accompanied by militaristic snare drums.  The final section returns to gothic strings, only to segue back into more of the altered march.

11. Phone With Bean (1:35)
This track actually escapes from the gloomy strings and transforms them into a major key.  A short snippet of the main theme is interpolated at one point.

12. Omari's Scheme (1:58)
This cue is founded on top of a pizzicato ostinato, which in turn can be traced back to The Dark March.  There are a few synth percussion effects and minor chord strings, but the music eventually heads back to the ostinato and plays a quiet string presentation of the theme.

13. The Garden of Eden (2:12)
Like "Phone With Bean," this contains the usual gothic chords, but now transformed into a major key.  The origin of the second section (now with appropriate synth choir) is again the march.

14. Omari's Threat (1:28)
This encloses more minor chords based on the main theme, which segue into an X-Filesish piano ostinato accompanied by a rattling steady beat.

15. Target's Chosen (1:11)
We now receive a new interpolation of the theme - a piano ostinato with a melody alternating between the piano and woodwinds.

16. Omari's Last Stand (2:21)
Groupe reintroduces the rattling beat from "Threat" and covers it in dense strings .  Next comes one of the more unusual sections of the score - a syncopated synth bass line under running woodwinds.  The final section resurrects his theme, as well as the rattling beat.  The running woodwinds return, and the track ends in atonality.

17. The Shooting (1:41)
Groupe now introduces a new aspect into the score:  he takes the dissonant strings from the end of the previous track and expands on them, creating the most harrowing and horrific cue present in the score thus far.  Even in a cue like this, he bases some of the material on the versatile Dark March.

18. First Strike (1:39)
Much more lively than some of the previous cues, this is almost a string scherzo.  The tone set is magnificent - foreboding, yet still mystifying and haunting.  Incredibly, even this track is based on the main theme.

19. Pilots of Fate (1:13)
This bucolic masterpiece of a cue begins with more of his trademark gothic string theme, but the music later opens up and turns it into a soaring, major key theme.

20. Deterrence (3:04)
Now a spacious-sounding choir sings the gothic theme, intercut with a single soprano solo.  As has been stated many times before, Groupe's expertise in orchestration and variation continually adds poignant new facets to his continually-expanding proficiency as a film composer.

21. Lay Down The King (2:51)
This contains another gothic string theme, much more uplifting than the others.

22. The Dark March (Reprised) (3:30)
Groupe presents a new, fuller orchestration of The Dark March.  Its introduction has been extended, now consisting of drum cadences and dissonant orchestral notes.  The rest, however, remains basically the same as the first track, although the arrangement varies several of the piece's more subtle counterpoints.

23. End Titles (4:09)
Although any typical film composer would simply pen another verbatim reprise of the theme, Groupe masterfully transforms the march into a lyrical, hymn-like composition, even going so far as having a solo soprano.

In summation, this score shows Larry Groupe at the top of his form.  One can't help but be amazed by the amount of compositional skill that went into this - nearly every track contains at least one startling variation of his Dark March.  Although some of the more mundane string tracks can become wearing, overall this score's benefits greatly outweigh its flaws.  Fans of Mark Snow's X-Files work should particularly love this, since it manages to be completely listenable as a concert work while still providing the needed string ambience.  Great things should be expected in Groupe's future.

Again, this can be ordered from  Larry Groupe's Website for $15, or bought on Citadel Records.



 
Deterrence: The Final Score
Music Rating 8/10
Packaging/Liner Notes N/A
Orchestral Performance 9/10
Sound Quality 9/10
Length 10/10





Deterrence is Copyright 1999 by Lawrence Nash Groupe.  Review Copyright 1999 by Andrew Drannon.  All rights reserved.
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