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MP3: Waiting for Superman (2010)

Review Rating:   Very Good
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September 21, 2010

Tracks / Album Length:

21 tracks / (38:00)


Composer: Christophe Beck

Special Notes:

Available as a digital download
Comments :    

Although best known for scoring Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, Christophe Beck shows he’s equally adept at scoring documentaries, a balancing act that involves crafting material for real-life characters, and developing the score as the film’s theme and plotting address specific moral arguments.

The flaws within the U.S. public school system are the focus of Davis (An Inconvenient Truth) Guggenheim’s documentary Waiting for Superman (2010), and Beck sticks to a gentle palette of acoustic guitar, soft piano, and electric bass, creating little thematic mobiles that tease, amuse, provoke, and illustrate absurdities of a troubled education system within the film.

Energetic cues like “Firing Range” are dominated by pizzicato strings and small piano hits, whereas “Jeffrey Canada” has a silky retro feel with keyboards, piano, and a circular keyboard motif that causes the other instruments to speed up, and slow down for the end.

Most of the cues are short (which tends to be the nature of doc scores), but the album has a good flow, with Beck’s main theme weaving in and out, reminding the viewer (and listener) of the steep challenges the characters must face to overcome bad odds. The only occasion one hears a large orchestra is the short burst that concludes “Sound Barrier,” or when a modest group of strings play long extended notes under a pensive solo piano.

Lakeshore’s mastering is first-rate, showing off the close-miked engineering which pulls up all the nuances of the musician’s performances, be they the tactile guitar pick clicks, or the coarse bowing of the cello.


© 2010 Mark R. Hasan

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