It's not often I feel the urge to start a thread about a new DVD or music title, but today is November 19th and that means one thing: Release day for the soundtrack CD of The Fellowship Of The Ring. One month away from the release date of the film itself, I find myself glad to have four weeks to absorb this album. It's a dense, meticulously layered piece of work that will take a lot of listening before really seeping in properly. That said, I've found in the couple of hours I've been playing the CD in the car that I'm hooked. This is gorgeous film music. Possibly some of the finest I've ever heard and certainly the best soundtrack CD I've listened to in a long time. Howard Shore has delivered the goods, and by no short measure. There is a broad range of music here. Light, dark, in-between and Shore is not afraid of going gung-ho with a full 106 piece orchestra (plus a 'massive' sounding choir) when he feels the need. What struck me most is the amazing feel of maturity to all of the pieces. This is a very 'grown up' soundtrack, not one to play endlessly with recycled tunes and flamboyant or overly emotional bursts of pretentious, false 'feeling'. There is a sense of scale, grandeur and downright seriousness to this soundtrack that makes you wonder if the visuals of the film will ever be able to deliver the same impression. If you could read fast enough, this would make a fine soundtrack to the book, never mind the film. There's little or no bombastic chest-beating. No real sense of 'hero' themes that John Williams and James Horner always seem to give. This is a very un-American sounding score in the sense that it's not overblown and 'patriotic' sounding (well, maybe a little here and there). There are themes, but they're not crammed down your throat at every turn and neither are they absent for so long that you forget about them. 'Noble' and 'dignified' are two words which spring to mind. The recurring Fellowship theme, heard in small pieces throughout much of the album just never gets tiring. It's a wonderful, cascading little melody that is absolutely beautiful to hear. Track 2, Concerning Hobbits, is a slightly playful, folky-sounding flute and violin led piece. There is a sense here of a Hobbit theme proper, but not long into the piece the Fellowship theme comes in (with string section) and the tone changes (almost) completely into something altogether deeper. Absolutely gorgeous. The darker pieces, of which there are several, succeed in portraying a sense of evil and desolation. I was really hoping that Shore would get this right because if the 'evil' music sucks, so do the 'evil' scenes. I was not disappointed. Damn, that serious tone really works. I haven't had time to really go through these tracks in detail yet so I wont go on about them, but the intensity of pieces such as A Knife In The Dark and The Bridge Of Khazad-dum, with full orchestra and a choir that can only be described as 'scary' is absolutely phenomenal. There is real brutality here, but high emotion at the same time. Exciting is not a word I like using very often, but it fits pretty well when trying to describe these pieces. And yes, the mail choir heard during Khazad.. really are singing in Dwarvish. The two pieces sung by Enya are surprising in that they actually fit into the context of the rest of the album. I wasn't that struck by the 'Aniron' love theme heard as part of the Council Of Elrond piece (which, incidentally, Enya sings in the high-Elvish language Sindarin) but the closing-credits track May It Be is very nice indeed and returns to the Fellowship theme heard throughout the CD. Certainly better than Celine Dion anyway I read a 'proper' review of this album a couple of days ago and the writer commented that Shore was setting himself up well for the next two movies. I agree. Not only has he delivered really beautiful, heartfelt music but he's managed to get it sounding like it really should be used for The Lord Of The Rings. This score just feels right. I've not heard a soundtrack so utterly satisfying - and almost relieving - to hear in godknowshowlong. It must have been a Herculean task, but I think Shore has done himself proud. Wonderful stuff. Bless my beard.