Soundtrack Album Review Music By James Newton Howard
Lakeshore Records/28 Tracks/Disc Time: 51:04
The upcoming thriller “Nightcrawler” which opens on Halloween is the Directorial debut of Writer Dan Gilroy whose brother Tony Gilroy is an Oscar nominated Writer/Director for the hit George Clooney film “Michael Clayton” as well was writing the screenplays for “The Bourne Identity”, “The Bourne Supremacy”, “The Bourne Ultimatium”, “The Bourne Legacy (co-written with Dan)”, “Duplicity” and “Proof Of Life”. The film stars Jake Gylenhaal as Lou Bloom, a young “Nightcrawler” who seeks out and records with his friend complete crimes or accidents happening throughout the streets of Los Angeles. One night Lou stumbles upon the underground world of L.A. freelance crime journalism with serious implications when he witnesses and records an active crime scene involving a murder. Now Lou’s world is falling all around him as he now seen by the L.A.P.D. as the main suspect and now desperately finds himself searching for the real culprit.
Aiding this seedy underworld of darkness is the work of Composer James Newton Howard, the gifted composer who previously worked with Tony Gilroy on the films “Michael Clayton” (which earned him a Best Original Score Nomination), “Duplicity” and “The Bourne Legacy”. Howard has forged a great career featuring terrific suspense action scores that include “The Fugitive”, “The Package”, “Waterworld”, “Falling Down”, “Vertical Limit”, and “Collateral”. This score is full of ambiance and tense atmosphere that will definitely remind most of his scores to both “Michael Clayton”, “Falling Down” and “Collateral”, with it’s moody keyboards, strings and guitar work. This is a score that fits the grimy and gritty world of L.A. after dark with musical precision.
Opening with “Nightcrawler” which establishes the mood of the film with a pulsing dreamlike synthesizers, percussion and electric guitar solo that gives the image of L.A. after dark as a world filled both dreamy and nightmarish landscape that the film’s protagonist will encounter throughout. Howard largely bases his score around the world of this character that is ambitious and aggressive with musical gusto and establishes this in the tracks “Lou’s Inspired”, “Driving At Night”, “”Day To Night”, “The First Night”, “”Lou And Rick On A Roll”, “Driving At Night, Again”, “Lou’s Philosaphy”, “Lou’s Free” and “If It Bleeds, It Leads”. Each track features a dreamy textures as well as dark tones mixed in with a progressive rock atmosphere as featured in “If It Bleeds, It Leads” and the material at times will remind those of the excellent work of Thomas Newman and Cliff Martinez. Howard also concentrates on the films’ storyline giving it tension and suspense as only he knows how to do. Moods and complex musical textures a pulsing atmosphere that is both thriller and haunting suspense. Highlighted by the tracks “Entering The House”, “”Pictures On The Fridge”, “Mount Wilson”, “”Watching The House Footage”, “”Moving The Body”, “The Wrong Way”, “”The Shootout” and “Waiting”, that feature the urban elements and tension that his scores to “Falling Down” and “The Trigger Effect” featured throughout and made those scores very effective in their own right.
Lakeshore Records’ album is a nicely put together production and there is plenty of music here to savor and doesn’t overstate its’ welcome all that much. This is a score that most will dismiss, but I enjoyed it personally on its’ own merits and for what it is: a moody score that is vintage JNH from the 1990’s where he was creating rich and textured scores that were largely effective and elevated the films that he wrote for. “Nightcrawler” is definitely a great listen back to those days with a composer whose work is unmatched today. A solid intense listen. Thumbs up.