Review: Heart of the Game, The
3 / 5 Stars
Recording artist The Angel provides the score The Heart of the Game, a documentary that chronicles the story of a Seattle high school girls\' basketball team, its coach Bill Resler, and Darnellia Russell, one of its key players. The score mostly features urban electronic percussion tracks mixed in with other synth instrumentation and effects. Its disciplined focus on a wide range of rhythms is noteworthy, and surely provides great accompaniment to the documentary, but on album the approach comes off as somewhat narrow and repetitive. Overall though, thanks in part to the inclusion of some effective ambient cues, it\'s still an enjoyable listen.
Three main themes reoccur throughout the score. The first one is heard in the opening track, "The Heart of the Game Opening Theme", a steadily progressing beat that features brief samples of what sound like girls\' sports team members clapping and cheering. Given the documentary\'s subject matter, it\'s certainly an appropriate inclusion, and it\'s used effectively throughout the album. The second theme is for Resler, which has a somewhat playful feel and is heard in "Resler\'s Theme" and "Resler\'s Home". There\'s also a theme heard for Darnellia, which has a more determined but still upbeat sound, featured in tracks like "Darnellia in Gym" and "Darnellia\'s Rebound".
The many tracks focused on various rhythmic beats are layered and well-structured, but overall sound fairly similar. Exceptions, however, include "All The Way", a particularly upbeat cue that features blasts of synth brass samples and an enjoyable melody hummed toward the end, and "Bulldogs", memorable for its dramatic and foreboding sound. While the majority of the tracks are heavily bass line-driven, there are some cues which take a considerably more atmospheric approach. Good examples of these moodier tracks are "Loss to Kangs" and "Darnellia\'s Fall", both especially subdued pieces that offer some welcome variety to the album. "Celebration" is also noteworthy for being a decidedly somber cue featuring a gentle, evocative piano melody. The concluding track is a song that places The Angel\'s theme for Darnellia underneath vocals by Mystic, whose lyrics appropriately cover themes associated with the documentary.
The highly syncopated beats keep you interested for a good part of the album, but as the tracks progress, the similarity of technique wears a little thin. However, the score for The Heart of the Game isn\'t merely a collection of simplistic electronic rhythms. The cues that make up the album are often complex and effectively produce a consistent mood that blends a restrained sense of the upbeat with a strong sense of the somber and atmospheric.
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