Carlo Giacco's Like Minds (Murderous Intent in North America) is a brooding, robust score, and demonstrates the chilling subtleties a skilled composer can extract from a large orchestra without smacking the listener on the head with bombast.
There are moments of raw, orchestral tension (beginning with the opening titles, underscoring a train sequence) but Giacco largely emphasizes hard brass, tense strings, and plenty of vibrato to colour his expansive score. “Have You Seen Nigel?” brings together the full might of brass and percussion in one propulsive stretch, although it quickly unwinds and evaporates in an abrupt conclusion.
Several of the cleanly orchestrated cues are also very, very low in volume; “Brotherhood,” for example, begins with a barely perceptible recap of the demented dance motif heard in the “Main Title,” and devolves into long stretches of soft, low tones. In “Gestalt Theory,” Giacco reconfigures the motif into a slow-forming meditation for piano and chamber strings, and it demonstrates the composer's knack for building tension using a simple 4-note pattern.
Like Minds has some passing similarities to Michael Kamen's underrated masterpiece Suspect (1987) – mostly by sticking to a core pattern and playing with dynamics and colourful variations – but Giacco isn't glued to a minimalist approach; his theme variations offer more introspective comments on the characters, and more than hint at moments of self-doubt as the film's murder mystery becomes more bizarre.
There's also eerie vocals layered into cues like “Josh's Funeral,” wherein Giacco emphasizes layers of mounting sounds and uses their terminating pattern as the starting point for “Susan,” the next (and more melodic) cue. In this case, the cue flow is very smooth and natural, but the brevity of some cuts does create sudden shifts between an unresolved finale and a sudden gust of brass and rumbling percussion. That flaw was also present on Varese's Suspect album, which led some critics at the time to dismiss Kamen's score as monotonous in spite of its potent effect on the film. (It also helped that the score was a fraction of the film's length, breathing life into a very slow-paced thriller.)
The only qualms with Like Minds as an album are the low cues – such as the subterranean “Jack” - which will mandate cranking up the volume knob, but Giacco's use of dynamics and orchestral colours are first-rate, making this meaty album a mandatory purchase for thriller fans. Easily one of the best suspense scores in recent years, with Giacco a composer to watch.
© 2008 Mark R. Hasan