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Iain Ballamy

Mirrormask [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Director Dave McKean's MirrorMask, a film developed through the Jim Henson Company, is an elaborate fantasy that has been likened to a 21st century version of ~The Wizard of Oz or ~Alice in Wonderland in the sense that it follows a girl into a strange world, albeit a darker one than those depicted in such children's books. McKean imagined an extremely diverse background score. ("I wanted the film to sound like everywhere and nowhere," he writes in the liner notes to the soundtrack album.) And he has gotten it in the first such effort by jazz saxophonist Iain Ballamy, who, for his part, claims with justification to have created "a unique and eclectic soundtrack." Eclectic it certainly is. One minute an accordion is playing circus music (in keeping with the opening setting in a circus). Soon after, Eastern European music reminiscent of Kurt Weill (and later Tom Waits) appears, then a complex, fast-paced classical composition that sounds like something Frank Zappa would come up with ("Rabbit Band"). There are eerie passages that sound orchestral (although much of the music is programmed rather than played), and here and there the Scandinavian singer Josefine Cronholm turns up, notably in an odd-sounding, multi-tracked cover of the old Carpenters hit "Close to You." This is a long soundtrack album, running more than 74 minutes and including 30 cues, and, without reference to the film, it sounds like a lot of different soundtrack albums patched together. But maybe that's just a way of saying that the director got what he wanted. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

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