Wednesday, 23 December 2015


Check it out... if you appreciate Thomas Newman when he's more melodic with his methodology, as Bridge of Spies finds him moving away from anonymity of Spectre and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Skip it... if you're allergic to the kind of sentimentality Spielberg scores are naturally inclined to include


In a year full of missteps, from the soulless monotony of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, to the massively disappointing anonymity of Spectre, Bridge of Spies serves as a relative return to form from acclaimed composer Thomas Newman. In his first collaboration alongside esteemed director Steven Spielberg (whose usual composer, John Williams, was preoccupied with scoring Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Newman offers music which manipulates and distorts anthems of patriotic pride, embedding suspicion, malice, and unnerving trepidation into an easily appreciated near-fifty minute package. Here, both style and substance are offered in equal measure, Newman's typical propensity for nuanced, detailed composition evident, but elevated in purpose by thematic material and structure that makes discernment of the narrative quite simple. Spielberg, a director often criticised for his fascination with ideas directly related to classic cinematic Americana, has his influence littered all throughout Newman's work, the soaring major chord, brass-led progressions of 'Sunlit Silence' possessing both magnificent splendour, and heartfelt, sweeping emotion. Bridge of Spies is an effective, well-executed amalgamation of old-school, Williams-esque melodic writing, and modernized Newman atmosphere, that renders a thoughtfully produced score. 

With regards to atmosphere; Newman, a composer who has evolved in style considerably over the length of his long and commendable career, proves the effectiveness of ambiant production all throughout Bridge of Spies. On 'Standing Man', a stark palette of higher-register synthetic instruments implement a harrowing mood, that is given further depth as strings sweep in to offer one of the primary motifs of the album. But despite the orchestral presence, the electronics never disappear entirely, making up the bass range, and providing an undertone of dark, subdued hostility for the piece. Synthetics slither in all throughout much of the rest of the duration of the score, adding size and counterpoint to the more heroic melodies performed by the live orchestra. Other distinct components that Newman successfully interpolates include a tormented choir that appears on 'Lt. Francis Gary Powers', 'The Wall', 'The Impatient Plan', and 'Bridge of Spies (End Title)'; an almost ethereal, reverb-heavy atmosphere on 'Private Citizen' (one of the album's finest moments); and the quaint piano on 'Glienicke Bridge', shrouded in dark, brooding electronics. But the real highlight of Bridge of Spies is undoubtedly 'Homecoming', with its gorgeous, Horner-influenced piano solo, and breathtakingly resonant string crescendos; if all of that hasn't got you crying, the odd clarinet here and there will certainly get your tear-ducts moving. For all of the score's well orchestrated skepticism, its most optimistic moments are the ones which will most likely stick with listener after its all wrapped up. Bridge of Spies has all the ingredients necessary to entice viewers, but manages to remain individual in presentation. This is a genuinely beautiful work. You can purchase Bridge of Spies on Amazon or iTunes, here and here



Additional notes about release: none.

Track Listing

1.Hall of Trade Unions, Moscow0:43
2.Sunlit Silence4:04
3.Ejection Protocol1:56
4.Standing Man2:11
6.Lt. Francis Gary Powers3:04
7.The Article1:36
8.The Wall2:14
9.Private Citizen1:35
10.The Impatient Plan1:35
11.West Berlin1:12
12.Friedrichstrasse Station1:20
13.Glienicke Bridge10:51
15.Bridge of Spies (End Title)6:57
Total Album Time:48:25