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Now You See Me (Brian Tyler)

July 15, 2013

Cover_Nowyouseeme_TylerNOW YOU SEE ME

Brian Tyler, 2013, Glassnote Entertainment Group
12 tracks, 51.29

“Now You See Me” brings an interesting twist to the ‘heist’ genre as the crimes are being committed by a group of magicians. Adding his own touch of magic to this film (see what I did there?) is composer Brian Tyler.

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

A heist movie, of sorts, whereby a group of magicians is hired by a mysterious individual to pull off the greatest bank job of all time. The film features big names such as Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Morgan Freeman; and also contains some impressive special effects. The latter maybe not so surprising from director Louis Leterrier (“The Incredible Hulk” and “Clash of the Titans”). Reviews for his latest flick have been moderate, damning a lack of character depth and a messy plot. The score by Brian Tyler is, on CD at least, a slick little score that should easily please even the most casual listener.

What does it sound like?

The caper genre has always had a distinct sound, rooted in jazz, though in this day and age modernisation is a necessity. Equally, an illusionist’s show these days requires high-octane, anthemic music. Brian Tyler has clearly done his homework and presents a score filled with funky percussion and snappy brass motifs, capturing both the ‘heist’ and ‘showbiz’ styles. Whilst the composer could be accused of going a little over the top, the result is just too much fun!

Not unlike David Arnold’s music for the “Bond” films, Tyler combines brass band with Rock-like drums; and not unlike, say, John Powell he shifts direction faster than you can say “Now You See Me”. Incidentally, that is the title of the opening track – who would have thought. The titular cue starts with arpeggiated triplets for strings that immediately remind me of “Signs” by James Newton Howard. Layered over them is a surging 9-note brass theme that could well have come from a “Bond” film. Rock drums give it a lot of drive, but soon Tyler switches to a more mysterious tone – you know, that ‘sneaking around’ type of music. Soon excitement levels start building up again through use of a syncopated 7/8 rhythm and, quite frankly, mental brass writing. The last third of this track (yes, we’re still on track 1) is a lot slower and quite laid-back with the main theme played on guitar, backed by vibraphone and varied percussion. This is one heck of an opener! “The Four Horsemen” and “Now You See Me (Reprise)” continue pretty much in the same way, adding some bongos, bass and vibrato e-piano. It is easy to imagine this music in a heist film; but it’s equally easy to imagine hearing this music during an magician’s show.

“Now You Don’t” combines fast staccato strings with lively percussion and stringent brass stabs and fluttering crescendos. Again, I’m tempted to make a John Powell reference with regards to the busy-ness of the cue. It never lets up and ends with a rather epic rendition of the 9-note main theme.  “Sleigh of the Mind” starts off relatively calmly, despite its fast tempo and staccato strings. Guitar, solo violin and marimba all take centre stage as some point during this track. The last third contains more ‘straight forward’ modern action writing with plenty of synths and electronic drumloops. “Welcome to the Eye” is the last of Tyler’s score cues and sees things calm down considerably with slow strings (and even some piano) performing a solemn version of the main theme. Towards the end of this cue Tyler returns to his string ostinatos and Rock percussion to bring the score full-circle.

The album is complimented by a handful of songs and remixes of Tyler’s music. A highly electronic version of “Sun”, originally by Two Doors Cinema Club, is likely to upset fans of the Indie-rock; and I have to say I’m not so keen of this remix myself. “Codec” by Zedd is dance track containing similar trance and acid noises. “Cineramascope” (Galactic), with its funky drumloops and rollicking brass lines, fits in quite nicely with the score. Tyler’s title track “Now You See Me” receives two treatments. One a bit hip-hoppy (Robert DeLong Remix) with orchestral parts being sampled and treated in a similar way to the “Remember Me” soundtrack by Olivier Deriviere; the other adding trance sounds to the already rock-influenced cue (Spellbound Remix). Neither will please filmmusic purists, but personally I quite enjoyed the latter remix.

Is it any good?

This is one hyperactive score (never mind the songs) and I could imagine that it’s a bit much for some people. Despite the rapid shifts in tone and tempo I do feel Tyler takes enough time to present and develop his ideas. The writing and orchestration are simply phenomenal. It is fast-paced, multi-layered, driven by percussion and immensely satisfying. The film itself may be flawed and perhaps one could argue that Tyler is trying very hard (perhaps a little too hard) to save a sinking ship. What ever the case may be, for me this is one of Tyler’s finer efforts and one of the most enjoyable scores of the year. With “Iron Man 3” also on release, Tyler is a roll on!

Rating [4/5]

Tracklisting

1. Now You See Me (5:26)
2. The Four Horsemen (3:34)
3. Now You See Me (Reprise) (1:49)
4. Sun (Jesse Marco Remix) – Two Door Cinema Club (4:45)
5. Now You Don’t (4:21)
6. Entertainment – Phoenix (3:38)
7. Sleight of the Mind (4:45)
8. Now You See Me (Robert DeLong Remix) (3:40)
9. Welcome to the Eye (5:49)
10. Codec – Zedd (6:01)
11. Cineramascope (feat. Trombone Shorty and Corey Henry) – Galactic (3:14)
12. Now You See Me (Spellbound Remix) (4:19)

Album credits

Album credits on allmusic.com

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5 Comments
  1. Craig Richard Lysy permalink

    I thought the score gained momentum and really reached its apogee in the spectacular festive finale. A wow moment for me. All the best.

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