|1.||The New World||5:22|
|3.||A Flame Within||4:05|
|4.||An Apparition in the Fields||3:42|
|6.||Of the Forest||6:55|
|7.||Pocahontas and Smith||3:41|
|11.||All is Lost||8:14|
|12.||A Dark Cloud is Forever Lifted||9:55|
|13.||Listen to the Wind||Hayley Westenra||4:35|
| ||79:30| Submit your review
Apparently, it's not easy to work for director Terrence Malick if you're a composer. Malick often changes direction during his projects - creating all kind of problems for his composers - and has a habit of replacing large chunks of the original score with classical music. Hans Zimmer had to deal with these problems when scoring The Thin Red Line and so did James Horner when scoring Malick's latest film, The New World. On the other hand, both Zimmer and Horner were allowed to spend many months on their respective projects, writing ours of music during the pre-production phases of the films, so Malick's approach isn't all bad.
Because of the difficulties James Horner experienced while scoring this film, the score for The New World in the film and on CD are almost two totally different animals. The film often uses parts of Wagner's "Das Rheingold" and Mozart's 23rd Piano Concerto, instead of Horner's score, and whenever the actual score is used, it's often very restrained and understated, albeit very effective. On CD, however, the score is allowed to develop, breath and stretch its wings, moving from restraint to lush and strong thematic moments. Horner utilizes orchestra, electronics, piano, female vocals - and bird song! - and although he occasionally revisits earlier scores on his resumé, The New World is a beautiful, captivating and very pleasant score.
The use of sampled bird chirps might seem a tad too much at times, but it actually works quite well most of the time. And its never allowed to dominate the score in any way, only appearing in a couple of cues, such as the opening title track "The New World", where Horner uses the piano to create an interesting windchime effect - a musical idea that re-appears throughout the entire score. Another re-occuring element is the female vocals, which, together with piano and strings, creates a very relaxing sound, similar to parts of Titanic and The Spitfire Grill.
"First Landing" and "A Flame Within" both revolves around a simple, echoing, piano ostinato and a repeating descending figure, performed by strings in "First Landing" and by solo vocals in "A Flame Within", creating an almost hypnotic pattern. And the latter features the first strong statement of the main theme - a beautiful melody, that unfortunately sounds a little too close to some of Horner's earlier themes, and especially one from The Missing. But it's a great tune, as is the piano based "An Apparition in the Fields". It is one of the loveliest piano pieces Horner has ever written, with a very soothing sound, which hightens when soft female vocals joins the piano. Wonderful in its simplicity.
And no one can write "forest music" like Horner. He did it in The Spitfire Grill, and he does it for The New World, as well. "Of the Forest" is brimful with light, dancing piano, soft strings and electronics. It's also packed with samples of bird song. Which kind of works, even if it gets a little too much at times. For The Spitfire Grill, Horner used flutes to represent and mimic birds - an approach that actually works better than using actual birds.
"Pocahontas and Smith" is the first really big orchestral cue, with lush strings, soft woodwind solos and strong statements of the major themes. "Forbidden Corn" continues in the same vein, sometimes crossing into Braveheart territory. "Rolfe Proposes" brings back the piano and is quite reminiscent of Horner's score for To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, with reflective, quiet piano, electronics and Horner's often used synth oboe.
"Winter/Battle" is the only harsh cue on the CD, with Horner adding some unusual electronics to the mix. Sort of like the "Revenge" music from Braveheart and Legends of the Fall, but with a more aggressive touch. "All is Lost" is calmer, with a more traditional approach, and some lovely renditions of the main themes. People familiar with Horner's lush and dramatic string music will feel right at home.
Horner's The New World isn't the most original Horner has written lately - his scores for Flightplan and The Chumscrubber is probably more interesting if you're looking for originality - but it's a fine score, that's mostly very delicate, restrained and intimate. And the song at the very end of the soundtrack album, performed by Hayley Westenra, is actually quite good. Based on the score's main theme, and staying as far away from pop as possible, this is actually one of Horner's better songs.
Had I been a James Horner fan twenty years ago, I would have waited with baited breath for every offering, but in the 2000's approach each score with caution. However, the thought of him scoring for Terence Malick, the notoriously aloof director - only his fourth major film in thirty years - made me optimistic that he'd turn something in of worth. After all, Malick managed to entice Hans Zimmer (and the inevitable additional composers) to produce an often inspiring score for The Thin Red Line and The New World seems ideal territory for Horner. Despite a title that suggests something along the lines of 1492 or Columbus: The Discovery, The New World is the Pocahontas story, which only has one other well known telling and that was by Disney, even if it was rather light on factual content.
Malick films are renowned for their beautiful photography, especially shots of the natural world and, again, lensing America as a fresh, undisturbed land seems an ideal opportunity. Indeed, that aspect of production has received much acclaim, even if the central romances have not. Love stories mixed with splendid scenery seems ideal Horner material and, by and large, he doesn't disappoint. The nominal opening cue opens with sampled birdsong, which is a simple, yet hugely effective idea. The only slight reservation is that it sounds like a busy rainforest of chirrups rather than a gentle scattering of woodland songbirds. From the light cacophony rises the gently glowing orchestra and chorus, together with the (somewhat obligatory) twinkling piano. There are hints of The Spitfire Grill here, but the strokes are much broader here than its more insular predecessor.
Two major themes dominate; that laid out in the opening track and an equally appealing melody for the romantic aspirations, notably in Rolfe Proposes. Darker moods pervade infrequently, but Winter - Battle and All is Lost are effective, the former featuring some harsh Braveheart style drones which cut through the otherwise soft orchestral textures. The album closes with Listen to the Wind, performed by New Zealand's answer to Charlotte Church (as if one were needed), Hayley Westenra, who performs with alternating delicacy and lung bursting gusto. However, it's one of Horner's most pleasing spin off songs in some time with a good tune (based on the main theme) and nicely arranged, certainly a vast improvement over the abomination that sullied his otherwise fine replacement effort for Troy.
The album apparently features everything Horner wrote, much of which was replaced in the film with the Overture to Wagner's Das Rheingold (which might seem an odd choice, but it's one his more sedate and low key operatic openings) and Mozart. It's difficult to argue that there's anything particularly impressive or novel about Horner's score, but it's surprisingly enchanting, the kind of album that washes over the listener with some decent tunes and very evocative textures. Even the typically gargantuan length doesn't feel quite so endless, even if not a great deal happens at times (that the moods start to shift more appreciably in the second half is certainly of benefit to the pacing). A score more pleasing because of its tone than technical accomplishment, but still worth checking out.
This soundtrack trailer contains music of:
Trigger, Cinetrax (Trailer)
The Way Out, Cinetrax (Trailer)
Summoning the Muse, Dead Can Dance (song(s))
Ritual, Immediate Music (Trailer)
Hallowed Ground, Regan High Priestess (song(s))
The Arrow Drawn, VideoHelper Music Library (Trailer)
Mojo Rising, Brand X Music (Trailer)
Rainbow Voice, Michael Stearns (song(s))
Drum HIts #2 Full, Nathn Duvall (Trailer)
Morbid Upsurge, Robert Etoll (Trailer)
Nuclear Escalation, Robert Etoll (Trailer)