Life of Pi Soundtrack Review

Discussion in 'Music' started by Neil Middlemiss, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer

    Nov 15, 2001
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    Neil Middlemiss
    Mychael Danna, a composer familiar with dramatic scoring for films like Water, Breach, Capote and The Ice Storm (collaborating with Pi director Ang Lee), shines with his mystical and marvelous score for Life of Pi’s big screen adaptation. A mixture of western and eastern musical styles and flourishes dominate the 28 tracks which, despite many having shorter running times, come together to create a genuinely sublime experience. Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Original Score and nominated for an Academy Award, Life of Pi is a brilliant piece of film scoring.
    Life of Pi

    Release Company: Sony Classical
    Catalog ID: SCLL547725

    Film Year: 2012
    Running Time: 65:39
    Number of Discs: 1
    Edition: NA
    Composer(s): Mychael Danna
    Release Date: November 19, 2012
    Review Date: February 17, 2013
    Life of Pi – Composed by Mychael Danna
    4.5/ 5
    Yan Martel’s Life of Pi was a runaway success of a fictional novel; an examining and detailed story of a young boy, Piscine Molitor (Pi) from Pondicherry (a Union territory in India) where his family own a zoo, who marvels and invites diverse spiritual perspectives. When his family chooses to sell their zoo and relocate to Canada, Pi - a very smart young boy – becomes stranded in a lifeboat when the ship, which is also carrying some of the animals from the Zoo being sold. The sole survivor, he is stranded on the small life raft with several animals from the ill-fated ship, including a mesmerizing and deadly Bengal tiger (interestingly named Richard Parker).
    For the score, Ang Lee once again turned to Mychael Danna – a remarkable composer who was originally hired to score Lee’s HULK for Universal (before being replaced by Danny Elfman). Perhaps the finest accomplishment of Danna’s Life of Pi is the exquisite subtlety and refined sense of musical craftsmanship exacted for each moment. Mychael Danna shares considerable musical DNA with his accomplished composer brother, Jeff. Jeff Danna has scored works as varied as the modern retelling of Othello in 2001’s O to the biblical pondering at the heart of The Gospel of John. In fact, it is the similarity between Mychael’s Life of Pi and Jeff’s Gospel of John that listeners may find the most interesting and pleasing. Both are superb works of authentic instrumentation, relevant to the culture and geography of their stories and both replete with lush harmonious sounds every bit as deep and involving as the stories on screen.
    Ang Lee’s resplendent visual treat in this screen adaptation allows audiences to marvel in the imagination of Yann Martel and his unusually-set human story. Danna’s score simply needed to match that – and it most certainly does. The score as presented on the CD is a wonderful listen from beginning to end with a number of standout tracks, beginning with the lovely and lightly haunting “Pi’s Lullaby”, performed by Bombay Jayashri who gives the piece a lyrical and quixotic potency. “Christ in the Mountains”, though a shorter track, is immediately memorable with its plucky, warm, angelic and subtle-by-turns path. Other tracks, such as “First Night, First Day” and “God Storm” use angelically haunting choir to set emotional tones to great effect. Overall, Life of Pi is a faithful and respectful partner to the visuals, with the simplicity of the music going to great lengths to hide the complexity of the its creation – a masterful feat and one in which listeners will find great rewards upon multiple listens.
    Track Listing
    1. Pi’s Lullaby
    2. Piscine Molitor Patel
    3. Pondicherry
    4. Meeting Krishna
    5. Christ in the Mountains
    6. Thank you Vishnu for Introducing me to Christ
    7. Richard Parker
    8. Appa’s Lesson
    9. Anandi
    10. Leaving India
    11. The Deepest Spot on Earth
    12. Tsimtsum
    13. Death of the Zebra
    14. First Night, First Day
    15. Set Your House in Order
    16. Skinny Vegetarian Boy
    17. Pi and Richard Parker
    18. The Whale
    19. Flying Fish
    20. Tiger Training
    21. Orphans
    22. Tiger Vision
    23. God Storm
    24. I’m Ready now
    25. The Island
    26. Back to the World
    27. The Second Story
    28. Which Story do you Prefer?
    How Does It Sound?

    Life of Pi is flawlessly presented on disc with all the signature themes and moments from the film represented. No defects present and the orchestrations bring out a rich and lush sound from the instruments used, which include the piano, guitar, mandolin, sitar, bansuri (a type of flute), santoor (a string instrument) and many others. The Boys Choir heard in several tracks comes from the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School and each note of their young voices is pristine on this recording. The conductor was Mike Nowak.

    Final Thoughts
    Life of Pi is an entirely superb achievement in the musical arts. Of all the Academy Award nominated scores this year (Lincoln by John Williams, Anna Karenina by Dario Marianelli, Argo by Alexandre Desplat and Skyfall by Thomas Newman), Pi is the most alluring, memorable, and accomplished. John Williams’ Lincoln was the favorite to take home the prize for a while though Argo’s awards surge could bring Desplat his first Oscar (following four previous nominations in this category since 2007). However, if I were a voting member of AMPAS – Mychael Danna’s Life of Pi score would absolutely have my vote!
    Overall (Not an average)
    Neil Middlemiss
    Kernersville, NC

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