THE BIG EMPTY (2003)
Music composed and orchestrated by Brian Tyler.
24 Tracks (Playing Time = 46:45)
Album produced by Brian Tyler and MV Gerhard. Score produced by Brian Tyler. Music engineered by Jeff Vaughn. Music edited by Gary L. Krause. Music mixed by Brian Tyler and Jeff Vaughn. Art direction by Paul Gauthier.
La-La Land Records 1038
Limited edition of 1500 copies.
THE BIG EMPTY was the writing and directing debut of Steve Anderson. The unusual black comedy starred Jon Favreau and featured Kelsey Grammar along with Sean Bean (in between shoots for THE LORD OF THE RINGS) and even Daryll Hannah. It was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003 and then just disappeared off the distribution screen though it made some appearances overseas in select festivals. It’s DVD appearance has garnered a small following as well. The score was one of six, not counting his television work, that Tyler provided including the more famous step-in for the beleaguered TIMELINE. That score brought the composer to further prominence and now fans will have a chance to add to their appreciation of this composer’s talents with this latest release from La-La Land. THE BIG EMPTY then continues to help fill in the growing discography of one of the latest talents in the film music world.
THE BIG EMPTY has the feel of an independent score. At times it features a jazzy ensemble with a1970s electric guitar groove. There are also these more unusual soundscapes that Tyler creates that sound like an updated spaghetti western (“Mud Flap”) but with the addition of Middle Eastern instrumental sounds. “Indian Bob,” one of the longer tracks on the disc, manages to encapsulate most of these sounds quite well giving you a summary flavor of the score. (Some will find that the score is similar to Tyler’s work on CHILDREN OF DUNE but with the added urban jazz sound.) There are motives and specific sounds that recur lending the score ideas and earmarks that take the place of any strong thematic center. They appear to be connected to specific characters in the story (given the track titles here) and these motifs interact in interesting ways as the disc plays.
The way Tyler works with ambient music is additionally intriguing. The ambient sounds lend a constantly shifting feel lending a sense of disorientation. Sampled infomercial phrases become part of the musical texture in “Free Catalog,” a track that plays along the line of a new third stream jazz experiment. Overall, the background of the sound may seem static, but there is a lot of active music popping up in the texture. Given the nature of the film itself, this would be a powerful choice and watching the film one should pay close attention to the musical cues and clues. Those wondering what might be in store for Tyler’s upcoming score for THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS may find it in “Fierce” which rocks along quite nicely.
The temptation with a score like THE BIG EMPTY is to try and find Tyler’s “early” style or individual voice buried within the music. Some will see similarities here to other scores but this is the kind of score that one finds in many independent films. What will strike you is there is just something about this one that raises it above your average indie score. Tyler’s fans know what that something is and they will be grateful for this release. For others it will be a curiosity, perhaps like THE MISSOURI BREAKS seems curious in John Williams’ filmography until you hear what is to come and listen to it in close proximity to the composer’s other work.
THE BIG EMPTY does not have aspirations at grandeur as a film. Neither does its score, but it still makes for an interesting listen.
--Steven A. Kennedy , 31 May 2006
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