The cinematic ambitions of Chilly Gonzales were not previously well known, although very few forms fit his intentions to cycle between solo piano and throwback dance music quite like an original score. (Of course, if he'd tried to fit both piano meditations and funky house on a proper album, the cries of "Unity!" would have gone up immediately from outraged music fans.) Ivory Tower, the soundtrack to an "existentialist sports comedy about chess and success," was apparently recorded before the movie was filmed, so the filming could be arranged around the album; it's true that this sounds more like an album than a soundtrack. The piano lines are simplistic and repetitive, and the rest of the production is sunny, breezy house music the way they made it in New York during the mid-'90s, similar to Gonzales' Soft Power from 2008 -- but without the attention-grabbing retro qualities. The single "Never Stop," produced by Boyz Noise, rises above the pack, even as it wraps yet another piano line around a steady midtempo beat and gradually dizzying effects. Gonzales occasionally adds spoken rap onto these songs, but their relevance -- apart from the movie -- is unclear. (The second track, "I Am Europe," includes a series of stereotypes bordering on baffling non-sequiturs: "I'm socialist lingerie, I'm diplomatic techno...I'm a painting made of hair on a nudist beach eating McDonald's.") Gonzales isn't an innovative dance producer, and there's not much pop music in play here either, making Ivory Tower a rather run-of-the-mill soundtrack -- one of the many that can't be separated from their films.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush