Nathan Larson,
(Commotion, 2005)

Soundtrack music has a difficult role. Done well, it deepens the emotional effect of the onscreen action without distracting from the visuals, adding richness to the scene without being noticed.

Nathan Larson, the creator of soundtracks for emotionally driven films like Boys Don't Cry, Prozac Nation and Dirty Pretty Things, has a facility for supporting a movie without overwhelming it. His understated, atmospheric compositions help guide the viewer's emotions without forcing them. His best work -- like "Tigerland," from the movie of the same name, or "Rape & a Burning Polaroid," from Boys Don't Cry -- blends seamlessly with the films, becoming as integral, and invisible, as the background sets. It's a rare and valuable trait for a soundtrack composer.

Unfortunately, it's not a useful trait on an audio CD. The 22 tracks here showcase Larson at his best: understated but emotional, evocative with manipulation. But without the movies the tracks are designed for, they soon fade into background music. It is very good background music, and adds a definite note of romance to the day. But the same unobtrusive quality that makes Larson's soundtracks such an essential part of the movies they strengthen makes them a poor standalone CD.

Fans of the movies may find these tracks bring back a favorite moment or emotion. Even at that, Filmmusik is best heard with a movie.

by Sarah Meador
8 July 2006

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