The tender musical heart of this enchanted take on The Man Who Fell to Earth belongs to composer Edward Shearmur, who turns in a largely synthesized score where spare, delicate piano melodies often recall Thomas Newman's deft sense of space and dynamics. While the general musical ethos seems a throwback to the mid-'80s heyday of pioneering electronic scores by Vangelis and Tangerine Dream, contemporary technical advances have allowed Shearmur to impart an ethereal and distinctly organic aural patina to these cues. Though informed by his atmospheric session work with Pink Floyd (The Division Bell), Shearmur's K-PAX score stands apart: quiet, mystically introspective music that seems as uncomplicated–and yet innately profound–as an autumn breeze.
Even though it relies heavily on film scorer John Barry's by-now formulaic (if no less effective) methodology of fusing his distinctively luxuriant string arrangements with the music of whatever time or locale the score sets out to evoke (in this case, largely the Hollywood of the 1910s and '20s), the composer triumphed once again, garnering his second Academy Award nomination of the 1990s. Perhaps because of the years he spent dues-paying with English pop and jazz combos, Barry gets inside this period jazz and ragtime with both enthusiasm and, more importantly, taste, recalling similar effective efforts on Francis Coppola's The Cotton Club.
For better or worse, Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of Gaston Leroux's gothic horror/romance novel has done for stage musicals what Spielberg's Jaws did for fish stories, with worldwide sales of its original cast album approaching 25 million. While director Joel Schumacher's film turns on his typically ambitious visual verve, its new film soundtrack recording has been paradoxically focused in scope, yet beefed up dynamically via the brawny presence of a hundred piece orchestra and The London Boys Choir. This double-disc version showcases all of Phantom's songs, with Gerard Butler imparting a welcome, youthful sensuality to his Phantom, making a fine foil for Emily Rossum's ever-conflicted Christine. Original show orchestrator David Cullen has fashioned compelling new contemporary arrangements to frame Webber's songs–which now conclude with the lilting, upbeat new ballad he wrote for the film, "Learn to Be Lonely," sung by Minnie Driver's Carlotta.