Howard Shore,
A History of Violence
(New Line, 2005)

This orchestral soundtrack is at once meditative and tense, with such an undercurrent of nobility and grief that it's hard to imagine that the film it was created for is titled A History of Violence. But those who have seen the film will agree that it captures the haunted aspect of the characters.

The composer's extensive use of both the high-sounding instruments -- sometimes they sound almost like a pained shriek -- and the deeper, more somber low-octave woodwinds and strings, creates a plaintive score than creates a mood that is neither bleak nor optimistic -- but always troubled and tense.

From prolonged orchestral wail of the first track through to the somber elegiac finale, the album echoes the tension in the main characters who all are stalled in their own limbo. The music is distant, speaking of characters whose inner lives are pervaded by the American landscape, yet at the same time imperceptible and hidden.

Those who have not seen the film will like the soundtrack because, although it is a wonderful counterpart to the film, it is certainly a soundtrack that stands on its own.

by Carole McDonnell
6 May 2006

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