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House of Sand and Fog (OST) Soundtrack

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Product details

  • Audio CD (5 Mar. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Soundtrack
  • Label: Varese Sarabande
  • ASIN: B0000XKAGQ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 677,323 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

BBC Review

Promoters of the California idyll have largely ignored the irony that the state boasts not only palm trees, blonde beaches and frolicsome youth, but also fog. Dense, clammy, days-long fog.

Ignored until now, that is. This climatic phenomenon has a starring role in House Of Sand and Fog, a drama narrating the dispute between an Iranian immigrant family and a dispossessed woman over a Californian bungalow. The fog even seeps into the music, in the best possible way.

Veteran film composer James Horner has created a score which is dense, ominous and rolling as a West Coast pea-souper, with a blurry-edged, saturated sound. In "Break-In", for example, Horner conjures a thick, textured musical swirl, muffling the instruments carrying the melody behind heavy timpani and electronic fuzziness. Such nebulousness is perfect for a film about cultural confusion, the inability or refusal to see from others' viewpoints.

The piano plays a key role. Its intimate, domestic sound is put to good use in a drama about personal politics. "Two People" is a tense, tentative pas de deux played out on a solo piano. Elsewhere Horner supplements its sound electronically, Old "Photos, New Memories" overlays the gentle sound of a parlour piano with a synthesized keyboard to ominous effect.

Although sober and reflective, there are changes of pace. "This Is No Longer Your House" is a thumping musical stand-off, jumpy with suspense. And Horner's romantic heritage (Titanic, A Beautiful Mind) is evident in the closing track, "A Return to the Caspian", where the strings come out for an old-fashioned wallow.

One of the great things about this recording is its girth. Over an hour long, it allows thematic development of sequences such as "The Shooting". But the roominess means it also tends to lose momentum. It would do no harm to lose a couple of the filler tracks.

For the most part, though, this is a subtle, complex and lovely score. Sometimes fog can be a beautiful thing. --Jack Smith

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "jmcgarmott" on 18 May 2004
Format: Audio CD
For starters, this score was nominated for Best Original Score, one of four of Horner's work in the last quarter of 2003 (the others being The Missing, Radio and Beyond Borders). Which in a way is surprising - this is almost certainly the quietest score of the year.
House Of Sand And Fog is a film based on the Oprah Winfrey-endorsed novel by Andre Dubus III about the lives of a woman who was evicted from her home and the subsequent owners, an Iranian family, both claiming that it is an absolute necessity for them to live in the house, and the resulting dramatic conflicts that occur. It is a relatively low budget film - though having a powerful cast including Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Conelly - which explains the minimalistic nature of the score. The score is pretty much themeless, but contains a lot of atmospheric music (someone remarked that at one point he couldn't differentiate between this score and Lisa Gerrard's Whale Rider), mostly by piano or synths, and sometimes strings. There is no action scoring, weird music, cheerful fanfare or anything like that - just pure drama scoring.
Perhaps because of this, this is more a functional score, one that works in the film very well, rather than one that is enjoyable on the album. However, for Horner fans, this soundtrack shows a side of Horner that one has not really seen before. Usually in his scores even when quiet you could hear layers of strings in the background. Instead, we see Horner perfecting the slow, quiet, careful piano taps he first utilised in The Four Feathers. It is perhaps not the easiest soundtrack you can just pop into the player to listen for 70 minutes, but it is definitely a pleasant experience.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
James Horner's best work in a long time. 15 Feb. 2004
By Rich Stoehr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Even a diehard James Horner fan (like me) has to admit that, for the past few years, Horner has been skating by. With the scores for "Enemy at the Gates", "Radio", and "A Beautiful Mind", among others, Horner borrows heavily from himself and regurgitates old themes and progressions. Even the score for which he's perhaps best-known -- the Oscar-winning "Titanic" -- is heavily derivative of his own previous work.
Finally, with "House of Sand and Fog," Horner has given us something to treasure again: an original, moving score for a great film.
Listening to this music, I am reminded why I started following Horner's work so long ago. His subtle touch and avoidance of a "catchy" theme is evident in every track. Among my favorite pieces are "Two People," "The Dreams of Kings," and "Old Photos, New Memories"... but really, every song is a good one, and the album as a whole can be numbered as one of Horner's true masterpieces.
What I admired most about it was that Horner was able to abandon the style he has adopted for most of his recent work and just let the spirit of the film take over. Good film music is all about making music which evokes the right emotion for the film it accompanies, and the music for "House of Sand and Fog" does that perfectly, not only going along with but enhancing the feeling of each scene. The fact that the music is a joy to listen to on its own just makes it that much better.
Listening to James Horner's score for "House of Sand and Fog" reminds me of when I first listened to "Glory" and "Field of Dreams" and "Sneakers"... not because these scores are similar, but because they are all unique. They all bear the mark of James Horner, but it is Horner at his original and emotional best, and James Horner at the top of his game makes for some wonderful music.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
OSCAR CONSTENDER!!!! 10 Dec. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This soundtrack is deep in emotion, but extremely subtle and "underplayed"- a beautiful and very relaxing work.
Listen to it in the dark! It is come of the most calming music!
And for all you Horner fans out there - he does not borrow any real theme or even transitions (until the 15 minute track - "the Shooting, and Payment for our sins" where there is actually one statement from the missing score).
Other than that his style is pretty much the same even though a lot less melodic and more like Lisa Gerrard's WHALERIDER, or DRAGONFLY by Debney.
The instruments used are piano (there is wonderful piano solo in "TWO PEOPLE", string orchestra with synths and a tiny bit of oboe and flute. Also a neat touch for the tension motif is the plucking of strings along w/ timpani!
If you like darker, ambient and personal scores get this today!!!!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Great return to form for Horner 9 Jan. 2004
By James Luckard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I agree with the previous reviewer. I used to be a huge Horner fan and picked up most of his new albums until about five years ago, when I felt he lost his magic. Most of his recent scores have sounded like they were on autopilot, and I still remember my horror at seeing Enemy at the Gates and hearing his main theme, also known as the main theme from Schindler's List.
Now, I know, there are a thousand arguments about why film music is not always meant to sound totally original, and that Williams may have even borrowed some of his Schindler's melodies from elsewhere. It's all a matter of personal taste and I just haven't been moved by a Horner score for a while.
When I saw this beautifully crafted film, however, I was struck by the simplicity and emotional depth of Horner's work. It reminds me a great deal of his beautiful score for Deep Impact. I was also glad to not hear tunes he'd used previously elsewhere.
Although this doesn't have any of the driving, epic, thematic music Horner became a star for, like Titanic, it's a hauntingly beautiful work and is certainly worth picking up, especially for the wrenching final half-hour of the film, which is almost entirely scored.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
One of the best of 2003 26 Mar. 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
James Horner has never been my favorite composer. I think he borrows heavily from himself without ever stating anything new. This isn't always a problem if the composer takes his "internal themes" and transfers in an invigorating way to new material. But for me, Horner doesn't do that. With this score for THOSF, Horner really hits one home. I actually had to look at the cd just to make sure it really said "music composed by James Horner", this is so beautiful and different for him. As others have said, all of the tracks really are beautiful. This isn't the type of score you put on as background music nor something you listen to to Not think. This score is emotive and heavily melancholic. It reminds me of Gorecki's Symphony No.2, and if you know that piece of music, you know there's no a higher compliment I can pay this score.
(BTW, if you're interested in a composer doing new and exciting things check out Danny Elfman's score for The Hulk, his score that should've been nominated over his mediocre one for Big Fish.)
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Serves the Movie Well 16 July 2004
By Robert Stribley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I agree with many here who say that much of James Horner's music has sounded the same of late, but that this soundtrack is exceptional. Quiet, elegant, melancholy, moving: not words you'd use to describe a movie soundtrack, especially a wide-release flick like this, these days. I even agree that some of the pieces remind me of Gorecki. "The Waves of the Caspian Sea," for example, sounds remarkably like the Polish composer (one of my favorites, too), to the point that I almost expect to see his name in the credits. Overall, truly haunting and beautiful.
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