After a proficuous career that began in the 1980's, strangely enough
Christopher Young - for me one of the most gifted film composers of his
generation - remains an underrated name amongst film music aficcionados.
Thats odd because he wrote high quality music for a wide variety of projects: an ingenious score
incorporating breathing effects for
a darkly dramatic score to the prison drama Murder in the
First, haunting horror/action music for
Species and a big band, jazz score for
the comedy The Man Who Knew Too Little.
His long list of works also include the wonderfully gothic scores for
Hellraiser and its sequel Hellbound:
Hellraiser II, plus music for such high
profile and hit films as
The Shipping News, The Core
and The Grudge.
This last one fortified his partnership with producer and director Sam Raimi
and at last things are starting to change - for better.|
Young had wrote additional music for
and later in 2007 he will return to the franchise replacing Danny Elfman in Raimi's much anticipated Spider-Man 3.
But before that there's another Young's effort in the world of the Marvel
Super Heroes: Ghost Rider.
Starring Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes and Peter Fonda, this dark actioner
follows stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze who gives up his soul to become a
hellblazing vigilante, to fight against power hungry Blackheart, the son of
the devil himsel.
Despite the fact that Ghost Rider is also a Super Hero like Spidey, you may
expect a very different kind o f music here. As
Young explains, "What is
unique is that unlike Superman, Spider-Man or Batman, who are Super Heroes
that do their work in the city, here we're talking about a character that
rides around on a motorcycle. So the location had to be worked in to
the score, and it had to have gothic in it because it's just a very dark
The title character is a halloween-type
figure with his skull in flames, and he is a biker - a not
so subtle Hell Angels' reference. So, Young's musical translation of this
bizarre hero had to be unique - he choose dark, but yet colorful orchestral
and vocal tones
mixed with rock sensibilities brought by
guitars played by two members of Nine Inch Nails. Consequently
carries three very distinctive, basic main
layers in its structure: choral textures that evoke the hero's descent to
West Was Built on Legends");
the exquisite, often chaotic use of the metal section of the orchestra ("Artistry
in Death", "More Sinister Than Popcorn"); and the hard rock sound that
represents the character's bold and rebel spirit.
The first track introduces the main character's motif. It's initial dark and
slow cadence is ponctuated by guitars that gives to the piece a "dark
western" mood. The track will develop an
agitated and heroic tone achieved by the orquestra. This main theme will
receive more introspective renditions in tracks like "Penance Stare" or
"Blood Signature", one of the score's highlights. The following tracks bring
us the hard rock sound based mainly on electric guitar riffs and drum
rhythms, supported by distinct orchestra sections that summons the devilish
aspect of the plot, like in "More Sinister Than Popcorn" or "Chain Chariot".
There are a few moments where Young delivers some melodic passages, like "No Way To Wisdom".
A nice three chords, acoustic guitar motif appears in "A Thing for
Karen Carpenter" and "Serenade to a Daredevil's Devil". Young
employs these lyric moments to counterbalance the use of some ideas already
well known in this genre of music. Yes, there are some clichés here and
there, but the composer manages them intelligently. The score's piece of
resistance is wisely kept to the end: "The West Was Built on Legends" is a
well crafted mix of rock rhythms with choir latin chants that leads to a new -
and final - rendition of the main theme, that closes the album in a highly
satisfactory and magnificent way.
Doesn't matter what I may think about the
film itsef, the Ghost
Rider score shows us a talent that justifies a
well derserved, yet delayed professional and artistic recognition. In fact
after Beltramis' Hellboy, this is the
best genre score that I've heard since then. Kudos for Young, a composer
that always is capable to create very distinctive and imaginative