Harry Gregson-Williams is probably one of the most underrated composers working in Hollywood today. Mention his name and most people will probably think of action packed scores with the well-known Media Ventures sound (it's interesting to note that most of the Media Ventures composers claim that there is no such sound - some even hate when people mention it. Who can blame them? Can't be fun to have their music labelled like that). It couldn't be further from the thruth. Scores such as Antz and Chicken Run (co-composed with John Powell) and the soft and absolutely beautiful The Magic of Marciano, as well as the charming music for The Tigger Movie, are clearly products of a versatile composer with a distinct sound of his own. And the score for Dreamworks' animated film Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas just makes this more obvious.
One of the most entertaining scores so far this year, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is a swashbuckling adventure score with just the right amount of action, comedy and gentle underscore. And practically no annoying mickey-mousing at all. Woho! Performed by a large orchestra (for a change conducted by Gregson-Williams himself) and choir we are given a score that is guaranteed to entertain the listener. It's not really groundbreaking material Gregson-Williams has come up with here, but it's darn good. Especially for fans of the scores for Antz and Chicken Run. Sinbad features the cool, laidback music from the previous film and the upbeat, brassy elements from the latter.
Dominated by brass and plenty of appearances by choir, Sinbad features its fair share of swashbuckling themes. The main theme is appropriate for the genre and is a strong element throughout the entire score, but best heard, performed by full orchestra, in cues such as the opening "Let the Games Begin". There's also a lighthearted little reoccuring theme performed by bouncy woodwinds (especially basoon and flutes). Add to this some excellent female vocals in tracks like "Eris Steals the Book" and a couple of other themes and you've got the thematically rich score that Sinbad undoubtly is. As for memorable and stand out cues, "The Stowaway", owing a lot to the score for Antz, with its soft, groovy guitars, percussion and fiddle like strings, augmented by soft woodwinds. "Sirens" is one of the most entertaining and strange cues on the album, with its whimsical, almost a little Elfmanesque, female voices. Very seductive, over the top and fun. It's also one of the more original tracks on the soundtrack CD. "Lighting Lanterns" includes some excellent writing for choir, percussion and strings. Very mysterious stuff. "Is it the Shore or the Sea?", on the other hand, includes some beautiful writing for flute and soft strings. And when it comes to action, there's plenty. "The Sea Monster", with its racing strings and triumphant brass, is worth mentioning, as is the ten minutes long "Tartarus". Entertaining adventure music at its best.
Sinbad is a really excellent score and everything I hoped it would be, and as close to a five star rating as it's possible for a four star score to be. It's been a long time since I had so much fun listening to a film score. One of the best scores of 2003 so far.