Bone Dry

Scott Glasgow | Bone Dry | Intrada Records MAF 7103 | TT72:48 | 21 tracks | 2008

This thriller marks an impressive directorial debut for Brett A. Hart and stars Luke Goss (no, really…) as a man who becomes ensnared in a bizarre game of cat and mouse by a sadistic lunatic in the arid wilds of the Mojave Desert. The unseen foe, making contact by walkie-talkie and brandishing a rifle and scope, sets Eddie up with a series of grizzly ambushes and mantraps. It’s a sweltering, edgy movie with great performances by the leads, including B-Movie legends Lance Henriksen and Dee Wallace-Stone, and a beautiful desert landscape as its backdrop.

Doing much to increase the mood and emotion in Bone Dry is composer Scott Glasgow, whom the director settled upon after a lengthy search for an ideal composer. I am pleased he did, because Glasgow has created an immediate and effective score that is bursting with creativity and works to create a harrowing sense of unease, heat and fear. The majority of the score is created with a heady palette of musical colours and sounds, which sound better than any programming I’ve heard in a long time. Cues such as ‘Sandstorm’, ‘Hunted’ and ‘Snake Bite’ reveal a brooding soundscape with faux strings, peppered with impressive percussive effects, while the likes of ‘Hood Ornament’ and ‘Desert Chase’ offer more up-tempo action writing.

‘Cactus Torture’ sees the composer actually use the spiky flora as an instrument – such is Scott Glasgow’s commitment to creating an original sound for this film. The cue is matched to an excruciating scene, which Glasgow seemingly gleefully brings about with faltering string patches, intense faux brass, percussive thumps on the cactus trunk, plucked cactus spines and a rolling/detuning tympani effect. If that weren’t enough he also uses knives as instruments here and throughout the score, which is inspired.

While the lack of a real orchestra throughout the score isn’t a big deal – so well imagined is the programmed soundscape – the final fifteen minutes of score in the movie and on the album is orchestral. That might seem a strange thing to do, however it was considered vital to make the final dramatic scenes (and indeed the opening, ‘The Pool’) that bit more organic and affecting, and as such money was sourced to record with the FILMharmonic Orchestra Prague. The result is what Glasgow has titled ‘Retribution Symphony’ and it manages to add a lot more weight to an already impressive score. Arranged into three movements (‘Epiphany’, ‘Contrition’ and ‘Redemption’), the composition takes the edgy heart of the preceding score and imbues it with a more emotive, festering soul. The emphasis is on strings certainly, with subtle touches of woodwind in places and an increasing disquiet in movement two, superbly paced and achieved with an intensifying motif and percussive strikes. The third and final movement sees a rhythmic ‘clacking’ and a searing violin solo from Lucie Svehlova, augmented with a thick wash of strings and ending with a tolling bell. Great stuff.

I’m continually impressed and excited by Scott Glasgow’s work and this is perhaps his best yet. The ‘Retribution Symphony’ is of course a massive draw here and while it would be great to have had the entire score performed in that organic mould, the programmed score is itself brilliantly conceived, edgy and harrowing in places and exhibiting endless creativity from the composer. Bone Dry is great thriller writing, echoing the creative nuances of Goldsmith, the dark edginess of Goldenthal and the intensity of Herrmann.