Tangerine Dream scored director Michael Mann's film debut, Thief (released as "Violent Streets" outside of the U.S. market), adding their patented pulses, blips and whooshes to the film's highly stylized visual scenes. While TD's electronic music is a natural fit for soundtracks, it doesn't bring out the best in the band; for the most part, this soundtrack contains swatches of a larger canvas, building up a small head of steam in the span of four or five minutes but not raising the musical discussion above the level of mere mechanical chitchat. Most of the songs follow a set pattern, with Chris Franke slurring his sequencers under a thin fog of synthesizers, topped by a piercing and pithy melody. An engaging melody on "Beach Theme" makes it one of the album's better tracks, while "Trap Feeling" has a delicacy that compares favorably to Brian Eno's Music for Films. Fans of Force Majeure will find the second part of "Thru Metamorphic Rocks" reprised on "Igneous," while American audiences were treated to an actual rock song of guitars, bass and drums from the band on "Confrontation," written by Craig Safan (who would go on to score The Last Starfighter). Outside of the U.S., the track was replaced by "Beach Scene," which was issued as a promotional single in the U.K. and can be found on the Dream Sequence compilation. Despite charting well (number 43 in the U.K.), Thief is little more than a perfunctory exercise in electronic music -- a pastiche of leftovers and formulaic compositions that fail to fully engage the listener on their own. Of interest, Tangerine Dream also provided the soundtrack to Mann's next film, The Keep (available only as a bootleg to date), which in the context of that film was an unqualified success.
Thief [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] Review
by Dave Connolly