Dave McKean’s MirrorMask is – from the CD booklet, at least – a visually imaginative backdrop for the story of teenager Helena (Stephanie Leonidas), a member of a circus family who dreams of an ordinary life. When Helena’s mother falls ill, Helena blames herself. On the eve of her mother’s surgery Helena dreams of a strange land populated by bizarre creatures, masked characters and two opposing queens: one white and one dark. The white queen has fallen ill and it falls to Helena to find the MirrorMask as this is the key to helping the white queen. As a companion to the specific look of the movie McKean was very specific about the music he wanted; “…music to sound from everywhere and nowhere…”, with an “…orchestral punch [and] mysterious middle European flavour.” McKean turned to saxophonist turned film composer Iain Ballamy to come up with a score that would compliment the director’s vision. Ballamy’s studies in world music and his collaborations with numerous world music musicians have been put to good use here as this score exhibits influences from numerous geographical locations: France, Spain, eastern Europe, India, etc.
Ballamy has created this multi-cultural feel in his score by bringing together various instruments associated with a variety of folk music styles; e.g., accordion, acoustic guitar, banjo and cimbalon. And it is how Ballamy has brought together these various colours into interesting combinations that makes this score stand out from the crowd. Read the rest of this entry »