Michael Riesman

From the Philip Glass Recording Archive, Vol. 3: Jenipapo

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Jenipapo, Monique Gardenberg's 1995 thriller set in Brazil, features an attractive score by Philip Glass, and the composer's long-standing interest in the country's culture is reflected in some of the soundtrack's dance-like sections. The majority of the music, though, has the vintage sound of many of Glass' best film scores: rhythmic ostinatos overlaid with ominous harmonies, creating a strong sense of underlying menace. This may not be Glass at his most profound, but the soundtrack should be of interest to the composer's fans. It may have limited appeal to broader audiences, though, not because of the music itself, much of which is highly appealing, but because most of the tracks are so short, written to accommodate the scenes of the film, and not to fulfill the music's structural need for a longer time frame in which to expand in a fully satisfying way. Some of the tracks are just half a minute long, and musically have only begun to unfold before they abruptly stop. This is a work that would probably be more effective if Glass developed its brief sections more fully, or just omitted the shortest tracks. The score features a pop-inspired song, "Ignorant Sky," sung by Suzanne Vega, which seems out of place with the rest of the music. Another quibble: the CD is less than half an hour long. It's part of the series of releases from the Philip Glass Recording Archive, so the producers could certainly have found another score to pair with it that would have made it a full-length album.

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