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Entrapment

by Christopher Young

Let me start off by admitting to the fact that this is my first Christopher Young score, so I might not judge it fairly based on his other work.  Young has scored over 50 films, most of them horror, although he's proven very capable with both dramas and big budget action spectaculars, which brings us to Entrapment.  This score blends a wide variety of genres: obviously, there are action cues, but he mixes in horror, romance, and the mandatory "creeping around" spy tracks.  The orchestral parts are performed by the giant 100 piece Philharmonia Orchestra, but unfortunately nearly every track has some kind of synth-groove accompaniment.  I realize that it was probably necessary for this kind of movie, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.  Still, though, they're mixed quite low and aren't nearly as grating as, say, the synth work on "Backseat Driver" from David Arnold's Tomorrow Never Dies score.  In fact, they actually add some needed atmosphere to a few cues.  I can't really discern any huge themes, but nearly every track is based on a new motif, and there's a love theme that crops up every so often.  Surprisingly, some of the more tender moments use an accompaniment in the synths similar to some of Trevor Jones' ethereal material from Merlin.  Also, Young uses several unusual ethnic instruments that really add a lot, particularly the Celtic flute in "The Dancing Jars."  Finally, let me just say right now that I'm taking a few points off the length category because the CD is just too long for this kind of score.  Instead of an hour, it would have been a lot better at 30-45 minutes.

Track by Track Analysis
1. Entrapment (2:20)
We begin promisingly with some string atmosphere and the beginnings of a theme on the French horn, followed by dissonant sixths, which sadly dissipate into synths and an action track.  After the synths play around some, Young reintroduces the horn theme and string atmosphere. Next comes a high, piercing violin note, a snare drum cadence, and a fading acoustic guitar ostinato.

2. Saints and Sinners (3:58)
Here Young blends his trademark dissonant horror writing with the synths.  It gets the point across, but it's not exactly the most exciting listening experience, unless you're a sucker for great atonal music.  Later, the synths move up the pace, only to go back to low brass figures with dissonant grinding strings.  This is almost one of the "creeping around tracks."

3. Fayeth in Fate (1:57)
Now we get the introduction of the small love theme.  The accompaniment is a rhythm based on the dissonant sixths from the opening, now played on strings.  The theme itself is pretty nondescript and simple, played on the piano.  However, it builds a great melancholy mood for the film.

4. Bright Moments (2:20)
We finally have a real action cue with not much grating atonality.  Like always, the synths are there, but they're mixed so low it doesn't even matter.  This is one of the only times they mesh with the orchestra, following the ostinato in the low strings.  It seems that one of the themes in this score is the dissonant sixths, as they play a large part in this action cue.  However, in the last 30 seconds Young lets loose with a soaring, grandiose string theme.

5. The Dancing Jars (1:06)
One of the better tracks on the album, this begins with a syncopated string figure with synths which leads into a great melody for Celtic flute, accompanied by the strings.

6. Blackmail (2:45)
Here is one of my favorite action cues on the album, perfectly capturing a desperate mood presented on screen.  The accompaniment is especially noteworthy - a great syncopated ostinato in the bass with synths.  After a while, it dissipates into "creeping around" dissonance, but soon the ostinato is back in full force, now with a horn figure - the dissonant sixths coupled with glissandi.

7. Who's Who? (3:03)
We're now back to quieter territory.  It's spy music - but the good kind, not the dissonant kind.  Like always, it's got synths and high strings.  The major motif here is a repeated pulsing figure in piano.

8. Heist Society (3:35)
More spy action - now with the major ostinato in the synths with some nondescript string melodies - the dissonant sixths again.  After a while, the quiet synths get the spotlight as the only bass instrument playing, along with various short dissonant figures throughout the orchestra.

9. A Certain Uncertainty (3:11)
Yet more spy action.  I like this one a little more than its predecessors, since it's got a nice low strings tension passage.  Still, the synths eventually take over, and the only real orchestral part is a collection of dissonant sliding chords in strings and woodwinds.  Overall, a very schizophrenic listening experience.

10. La Fleur de la Musique (1:58)
That French horn intro gets a little more fully developed here, and the simple piano love theme makes a return.  Later the strings more fully expand on it.

11. Kuala Lumpur (1:19)
One of the more ethnic tracks on the CD, this begins with an ethnic drum part, and the main melody is stated in some kind of wailing ethnic flute that I've never heard before in my life.  Its sound is almost like a saxophone, but more Eastern.  This is one of the better tracks on the album.

12. Impossible, but Doable (1:36)
Another great track.  Most of it is a melody stated in all the treble instruments, namely strings, celeste, and bells.  It's accompanied by a woodwind ostinato.

13. Thieving (4:12)
Here we have a calm, tranquil, yet still uncertain spy track (the best on the CD so far.)  All of it is based on a syncopated string note and alternating piano figure.  An interlude sounds almost like electronic chimes, and we next have a dissonant string part.  Unfortunately, the synths make a return, and turn it back into a generic spy track, but still much more upbeat than its predecessors.

14. Wondering Aloud (2:53)
Opens with the typical uncertain strings.  Later is a great touch - a subtle interpolation of the love theme by the piano.  The strings continue to build, climaxing in the worst synth passage on the album.  A jazzy guitar ostinato with booming synth accompaniment is the basis for this, with the orchestra following with the guitar melody.  IMHO, the synths are mixed much too loud, but there's still a great orchestral resolution.

15. Silent Partner (1:31)
Another one of the best spy tracks, this has synth ostinato (like always) and syncopated bass.  Again, like the previous track, Young subtlely interpolates the love theme into the proceedings.

16. The Empress Mask (7:21)
You would think that this is the big action climax cue to the album, right?  Wrong, it's just another spy track - and by far the most generic so far.  It's all made up of your typical synth stuff and gloomy, sometimes dissonant string and woodwind chords.  At times, it seems to want to jump into a big action cue, but always stays in spy land.  Luckily, the synth sometimes abandons the orchestra.

17. Millenium Countdown (1:30)
Instead, here is the big action climax.  Young uses all of his usual dissonant strings, etc. but plays them at a frantic pace, making the atonality much more exciting.  Too bad it's so short.

18. Alive Again (1:58)
The piano love theme is back, in its usual piano/string sixths form.  This track is by far the best presentation on the CD, except for the last track, adding a flute extension and a melodic string conclusion.

19. Try, Then Trust (2:05)
Here's another climactic action track, even better than "Millenium Countdown."  If you don't think I'm insane yet, you will after you read the next sentence: the opening 30 seconds remind me a lot of Leonard Rosenman's action stylings.  The piled fifths, the pulsing low string ostinato, pure Rosenman.  The music later tones down some, using the trademark synths and dissonant parts.

20. Thank God (4:04)
Young ends the score by finally providing closure to the love theme.  Although it's understatedly simple, I've come to like the theme even more with repeated listenings.  After some of the dissonant sixths, he introduces a tremolo pastoral passage in the strings, which segue into a soaring presentation of the love theme.  The only thing that detracts is the droning synths, now mixed louder than usual.  In fact, they nearly ruin the track.  Still, this is one of the standout tracks on the CD.  Unfortunately it ends rather badly with ominous synthesizers.

So, what do I think of this overall?  Although it's not very interesting to listen to by itself, except for a few standout tracks, I think it's great for setting a mood.  It's also great background music while you do other tasks.  BTW, I think this score was perfect for the film it was composed for.  However, I don't think it's the best of Chris Young, and I am definitely going to try out some of his other work.  If you enjoy dissonant spy music, I'm sure you'll love this, and others will find it good for a few tracks and as background music.



 
Entrapment: The Final Score
Music Rating 7/10
Packaging/Liner notes N/A
Orchestral performance 9/10
Sound Quality 10/10
Length 6/10



Entrapment is Copyright 1999 by Restless Records.  Review Copyright 1999 by Andrew Drannon.  All rights reserved.
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