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4.0 out of 5 stars The Beach Original Score by Angelo Badalamenti, 6 Feb 2011
This review is from: The Beach - Ost - Original Score (Audio CD)
This is quite a dark score in places and it's easy to forget that The Beach is really a thriller. Badalamenti uses lots of synths and electronic elements. And many of the action cues aren't exactly "sit down and chill out" - but then Badalamenti didn't compose the music to be listened stand alone. It's a film score and it's always good to remember that when listening to any soundtrack.

So this is very much a score underpinning the action. The electronic elements seem a little cheesy by today's standards, maybe jar a little - but when heard with the picture, it absolutely works.

The reason I spent 20 on this rare CD is because Badalamenti's main theme (which is very like the Twin Peaks theme) is sublime. The stand-out tracks are "The Beach Theme (Swim to the island)" which includes the dramatic build where Leo DiCaprio thinks a shark is attacking them. This contains the stunning main theme, led by strings and synth pads, with a scary "drum and bass" moment followed by more of the main theme tailing out to the main characters' arrival on the island.

"Mournful myth" is a mixture of synths, voices and a cello leading a variation on the main theme. This is quite beautiful with an element of tragedy too. It really evokes the magic of the beach but also the bitter-sweet situation that evolves between the characters and the island. It's one of the most classical/traditional sounding cues and probably one of the nicest to listen to as a standalone piece of music.

"Starnight" is a short romantic cue underscoring the scene where the characters are photographing the night sky. This is led by an acoustic guitar (or perhaps mandolin) and synth pads. This is the most obviously 'Badalamenti' and the sweetest track in the album. Sadly, all these cues are too short for my liking.

The highlight for me is "The Beach Theme (Mythical Waters)" which leads in with phasing synth pads and synth vocals, evolving into the main theme, strings and synths together complete this lovely crescendo. Again, like the characters in the movie, I want this to go on forever, but sadly the cue comes to what feels like an abrupt ending when seen without the picture.

The action cues like "Grassmark" are actually quite modern sounding, and contain frightening inversions of the main theme. For those interested in dark layered synths, electro percussion and mood-building pads, "Daffy's Done" is just the mark.

"Pure victims" is an interesting mixture of orchestra, electro atmospheres and some exotic sounds like a Jew's Harp and some sort of ethnic wood winds and distorted synth leads. Here brass and strings come to the fore as well as a clarinet and flute. Similar cues are "pursuit of shark" which has that orchestral/electro palette, but brings in some electric guitars to pad out the action. "Killing fields" also contains inversions of the theme performed on horns and backed up by an exciting electronic percussion track and building strings and ending on that luscious main theme in possibly it's most emotive variation.

The more one explores the action cues, the more interesting this album becomes - it would be very easy to hover around the main theme adagios and give up with the action cues - but they bring some of the best moments in the score.

Listening to the whole album (15 tracks in total) it's surprising to see how much traditional score was actually present in the movie considering how many popular tracks Danny Boyle sourced (can be heard on The Beach Various Artists soundtrack which isn't rare and can be picked up for the cost of the post on Amazon!).

I loved the film and think that Badalamenti got the tone perfect. For the year 2000, this was very ahead of it's time. And the slightly "cheesy" synthetic elements are somehow OK when you know it's a Badalamenti score. One can't help but think of Lynch's Twin Peaks and the 80s when those trademark synth pads come sweeping in.

A fantastic album for Badalamenti and Beach fans but give it a miss if you're hoping for lots of easy-listening cues. The beautiful adagio moments are short-lived compared with the dark underscore that dominates most of the CD.

That said, it is highly rewarding if you stick on some headphones and give it your full attention, the experience is worth it.
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The Beach - Ost - Original Score
The Beach - Ost - Original Score by Angelo Badalamenti (Audio CD - 2000)
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