Mark Snow got the chance of a lifetime to work with iconic French director Alain Resnais (Hiroshima Mon Amour, Night and Fog) and compose a score that has nothing to do with aliens, serial killers, or giant sea monsters.
Private Fears in Public Places / Coeurs is primarily piano over orchestral synth emulations, much like Snow's better-known TV scores (a combination that'll be a key attraction to X-Files fans), but the film's characters also offered the composer plenty of moments to investigate slowly shifting moods unfettered by an obligation to stay glued to a main theme.
The elegant piano theme that starts the album reappears in less formal variations, and the bulk of the score houses some pensive cuts like “Repressed Feelings,' as well as the soulful “Going Out,” where piano dances above string bass and keyboard chimes. The design in the latter cue is propulsive using gently revolving figures, with brief pauses comprised of airy sounds and morphing voices before the tempo snaps back into thematic gear.
The album's best cues involve Snow's interplay between piano, short tones on woodwinds, and very soothing chords (“Father Passed Away”), or string plucks set above saturated tonal swathes, as in “Leaving the Office.” There's also more harsh imagery in the partially unused cue “Sexy Dress & High Heels,” with Snow going for hard brass and percussion, reversed synth tones and faint wailing that eventually make way for a funky rhythm, later taken over by guitar and piano.
Most of the cues in this lengthy album vary between a half-minute to just over three, but there's a good diversity of moods in this well-sequenced and edited album, and Snow grounds the score with airy theme statements and variations on piano; it's the dramatic spine that interconnects this meditative work from a composer rarely heard on CD outside of the supernatural and horror realms.
© 2008 Mark R. Hasan