by Dan Goldwasser
Composer Mark Isham had a rather impressive and varied roster in 2006. He scored the thriller Running Scared, the adventure Eight Below, the noir drama The Black Dahlia, the inspiring sports drama Invincible, and the historical drama Bobby. 2007 is off to a similar start, with Isham bursting out of the gate with the drama Freedom Writers and the hit television show "The Black Donnellys". His next film will hit theaters on April 27th, and is the action thriller Next, directed by Lee Tamahori (Die Another Day).
Loosely based on sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick's short story "The Golden Man", Next is about a man (Nicholas Cage) who has the ability to see into the future. Tired of being examined and scrutinized by the government and scientific communities for his abilities, he is now living under an assumed name in Las Vegas where he works as a magician and lives off of gambling earnings. A federal agent (Julianne Moore) tracks him down, to enlist him to help prevent a terrorist attack on Los Angeles.
Isham's score for Next blends dramatic underscore with character melodies, romantic emotional music, and rhythmic action cues. SoundtrackNet has not seen the film yet, so we're unable to put the music in context - but we're happy to provide our listeners with clips from every track on the upcoming soundtrack album, which will be released by Lakeshore Records on April 24, 2007.
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1. 8:09 (2:10)
An airy sound on synths starts off the track, and then an ascending motif is hear first on what could be synth chimes, and then on piano. A slight pulsing rhythm is maintained as the piano plays the main theme, a hesitant chord filled melody with strings that is reminiscent of Isham's work on The Black Dahlia.
2. Give Me Two Minutes (3:19)
A steady rhythm starts this track, with sharp staccato strings in a driving ostinato that build, with the occasional break for a moment on screen. After a brief pause, they kick in again with a repeating ostinato that is bounced between the strings with vibes and percussion and pizzicato all adding to the palette. Brass backs the momentum with ascending chords and some electronic rhythms are also tossed in for flavor. Tension rises as the track reaches a climax, with the string phrase bouncing between each section, and it ends on a high crescendo.
3. Destiny (2:07)
Airy pads start off the track, and then the main piano melody from the first track shows up again, with lush strings supporting the chords. Now a new ascending love theme is heard, again on the piano, with the strings still providing backup.
4. Pier 18 (3:37)
Tense brass chords slowly build with percussion and some electronics and rhythmic string pulses. A strong Goldsmith-inspired brass line builds upwards, as the tension rises. A brief interlude of low synth and moody muted tones and intermittent percussion gives way to a string cluster that swells and takes us into the action. Fast percussion and dissonant strings and brass push upwards, and then after a break, percussion brings us right back into the thick of it. Constantly ascending upwards, we finally reach the apex, and the track concludes.
5. Carlotti Defines (2:50)
The main piano theme is heard again, and then the love theme follows, backed by lush strings once more. French horns come in to carry the theme forward, and then pulsing strings and rhythmic elements provide a sense of building momentum. The synth pads return, as well as the piano theme, and the track ends with the same chime ascending motif from the first track.
6. A Few Minutes of Your Time (3:19)
Sustained high strings and syncopated rhythms slowly bring in low strings, providing a sense of drama. Now the piano comes in with a major/minor chord backed version of the main love theme, but with tension provided from the constant rhythm. It has a very Goldsmithian flavor to it, and flutes can even be heard adding a dash of color as well.
7. Multiple Point Surveillance (2:34)
A lush string chord version of the main piano motif is heard, but then a tense low string ostinato breaks the trance. It's slow, but intermittent, and soon high strings are joined with medium strings in bouncing an ostinato off each other. Percussion comes in and a tense track starts to form with a repeating phrase heard underneath sustained strings. Brass comes in briefly with an ominous statement, and the track peters out.
8. Who Knows What's Safe (4:04)
This soft track uses lush string chords and a faint undercurrent of rhythm before the percussion shows up. After that falls away, celli take over with a melodic line which then falls into lengthy string chords, accented with soft piano beats. Now the piano takes over, and the ascending chime motif is heard again, leaving us with piano and strings, creating a rather tender and emotional cue.
9. Breaking News (4:08)
Low strings slowly and ominously build into dangerous sounding chords with brass, and then a dissonant rhythmic string ostinato starts up, with tense effects accentuated with synths and percussion. Synth pads and tremolo strings create a sense of foreboding, and piano strings are brushed, adding an otherworldly quality. Now a tender feeling is evoked with piano and strings, but quickly falls away into dark dramatic strings and brass chords.
10. Second and Broadway (2:44)
A fast-paced action track, we kick right off with tight staccato string ostinatos and percussion, much like in "Give Me Two Minutes", and we even have the same bits of melody bouncing between the strings as the tension rises. The brass comes in on top of it, and the energy keeps rising until it climaxes with sustained high strings. Now a lush chord version of the main theme is heard on strings briefly before the track ends.
11. No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (2:06)
A slow string chord version of what could be the love theme plays out, and then transitions into a rhythmic and tense ostinato with staccato brass. Now dissonant tremolo strings hold tension for a moment, and then the orchestra builds upwards with a large climactic swell, but the strings sustain briefly holding over the crest, before concluding.
12. Looking for a License Plate (2:09)
Dramatic strings are heard on top of a very quiet version of the main piano theme, and after a swell, chimes are heard with the airy synth on top of dissonant strings. Percussion kicks in briefly, but things stay settled with soft chords, and the track ends with the main piano theme once more, along with lush backing strings, and an ominous chord beat.
13. Shadow Group (2:04)
Strong descending brass and rhythmic strings start off this action track. It has a driving energy to it that is similar to "Pier 18", but a little more insistent. The Goldsmithian horn line is heard, and everything maintains the energy for a while, before the rhythms drop out, and horns and strings play off each other briefly before coming down into low ominous notes.
14. All Elements Execute! (2:05)
Low strings and sparse percussion hits dominate this slow track, creating a sense of impending action rather than the energy that the track title would suggest. Strong chords are heard, and then as tight percussion is lightly heard, strings dissonantly build upwards, and then fade out.
15. A Show of Character (3:39)
A string swell and low piano string brush brings in the ascending chime motif, but lower than before, creating more of a gamelan tone. Dissonant ominous strings swell once more, and then a burst of brass ushers in more dark string chords. Low strings ascend, and then rhythms and string pulses kick in temporarily, working it's way up with increasing tempo. A hit, and then strings all slowly slide upwards into another percussion hit. Now we're in the final stretch as strong brass, backed by pulsing strings and ascending rhythmic vibes, build into a strong climactic burst of energy.
16. I Believe Anything's Possible (3:41)
The final track on the album is clearly the "resolution" track, as we start off with airy pads, slowly pulsing rhythms and strings slowly ascend, eventually bringing in the love theme softly played on piano. French horns confidently take over the melody, and then the ascending chime motif is heard, bringing in a bit of percussion, and then some electronics and rhythmic strings confidently and resolutely build a dramatic climax with apeggiated and ascending strings, before ending the album on a big note.
Mark Isham's score to Next will be released by Lakeshore Records on April 24, 2007. The film opens nationwide three days later on April 27th, from Paramount Pictures.
Special thanks to Eric Craig and Stephanie Mente at Lakeshore Records.