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CD: Life of Pi (2012)
Review Rating:   Excellent  
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Sony Classical

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November 19, 2012

Tracks / Album Length:

28 tracks / (65:11)



Mychael Danna


Special Notes:


Comments :    

With a high reliance on visuals, Life of Pi could be seen as a dream project for any composer, and Mychael Danna’s score seamlessly flows between South Asian harmonics (“Pi’s Lullaby”) and rhythms (“Set Your House in Order”) to cues performed by more traditional western instruments (“Appa’s Lesson”).

Pi’s a deceptively simple score because Danna’s music often mimics the movement of natural elements, and his extension of chord statements creates virtual states where time is almost nonexistent. The results are sections which deeply affect the listener because the chosen chords are saturated with richly layered sounds. Even theme fragments have a tendency to almost hang in the air, repeating themselves like the rhythms of a liturgical chant. “Tiger Vision” is especially memorable for its revolving soft chimes, as well as the soft vocals that act as bridge material between airy tonal waves and periodic undercurrents of mid- and low-range chords.

“God Storm” brings together the orchestra’s full force, and Danna contrasts a strained version of his lovely theme with gorgeous chorals and eddying imagery from swirling figures on low and mid-range strings.         

Danna’s innate grasp of emotional states through impressionistic sounds was evident in his masterwork The Ice Storm (1997), and the Oscar-winning Life of Pi is a unique expansion of his approach without overwhelming the film: there are neither big nor minimalist cues, but a mid-range, and by mimicking the movements of natural elements, Danna’s comes even closer than in prior scores to capturing states of deep pensiveness where emotions arise from the subconscious, and saturate before a slow and gradual dissipation.

Also available: an interview with Rob Simonsen, Mychael Danna’s collaborator, and composer of additional music within Life of Pi.



© 2013 Mark R. Hasan

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