Score: Very Good
Label: Silva Screen
Tracks / Album Length: 11 tracks / (38:17)
Composer: Tangerine Dream
Special Notes: n/a
Composed at the head of the band’s busiest film scoring period (roughly 1983-1990), Heartbreakers is also a rare drama for a group known largely for their work in sci-fi and horror. Bobby Roth’s clear characters enabled TD to draw neatly organized themes and variations: artist Blue (Peter Coyote) and best friend Eli (Nick Mancuso), a pair of womanizers who show their machismo through competitive dating, wooing, and threesomes.
Much of the score is rhythm based with tracks starting off with a propulsive beat, and being a 1984 composition, one can hear specific ‘classic’ synth sounds that would gradually vanish as the band replaced older gear with new toys, experimenting with upgraded sounds (and as they got busier, sometimes rehashing certain pieces to presumably meet tight deadlines).
Heartbreakers feels more cohesive because the kinetics in each cue are meant to accentuate action or throbbing sensuality, although the score has its share of small, tender pieces. The title track offers a loose version of the main theme with synth woodwinds, keyboards, and assorted backbeats, and a gradual introduction of the main chords that’ll dominate the score, while “Footbridge to Heaven” provides a lush albeit slowed down variation.
“Rain in N.Y. City” is a bluesy variation of the album’s first propulsive track, taking the main underpinnings and distilling percussion into light taps, with synth strings and soft tones. “Breathing the Night Away” reduces the same theme to solo keyboard, which is performed with special tenderness and warmth. Blues – perhaps a conscious tie-in to lead character Blue – also figure in “Pastime,” where the melodic line is supported by electric guitar and keyboards, and supports a short scene where Liliane’s after work ‘dancing’ is interrupted by one of the boys.
The first rhythmic punch comes in the aforementioned “Twilight Painter,” which underscores the interplay between Blue, who paints pinups; Eli, the suited executive who spends time exercising, drinking, and watching his friend woo women; and Liliane, the athletic temptress who does aerobics at the health club and at the art gallery when her boss and clients have left for the day.
The rhythms are very redolent of TD’s Flashpoint (1983), especially the flanging hits layered over heavy bass beats, whereas “Gemini” matches a steady rock beat with large swatches of singed tones similar to Thief (1981). While the latter cue underscore’s the film’s opening squash game, it’s also a fine example of TD’s total grasp of shaping notes and chords into living sounds, as few notes remain steady; most seem to burn up or dissolve as another mass of tones swirls inward, almost exhausting the listener while matching the almost spent Eli and Blue as they indulge is a heavy squash duel.
Also of note is “The Loser,” which features heavy synth electric guitar and a harmonic structure similar to The Keep (1983), and the album’s longerst track, the 5 minute “Desire,” in which TD makes greater use of a synth wooden flute where notes are declared like bird calls before sequenced rhythms ease in, plus a return to some of the harsh, metallic tones.
The album’s second-last cue, “Thorny Affair,” consists of a bass-heavy, dance-styled piece with backbeats, electric bass, and wavering keyboards. The interplay between heavy percussion and revolving electronic taps also foreshadows later work, including the (non-film) album Optical Race (1988) with sounds more evocative of fixed revolving notes and computerized order than the swirling, layered sounds from overtly seventies analogue gear.
The end track “Daybreak” is a piece about closing the chapter of an aimless life, and heading with a little angst towards the unknown and unpredictable world of adulthood, which TD emphasizes with a lofty rhythm and darker, minor chord change. Novel to the cue is the use of human breaths which separately ‘whoosh’ in each channel.
Heartbreakers was released in Germany on LP by Virgin, and more than a decade later on CD via Silva Screen.
© 2016 Mark R. Hasan
Category: Soundtrack Reviews