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Puss in Boots

Henry Jackman

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Album Review

Composer Henry Jackman takes an obvious tack in the early and late parts of his score for the animated prequel to the Shrek series, Puss in Boots, featuring Spanish and other Latin elements for a movie with characters voiced by Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek. "A Bad Kitty," the opening track is a good example of this, as is the second, "One Leche," which recalls the Spaghetti Western sound of Ennio Morricone with its echoed whistle and Spanish guitar. "Chasing Tail," meanwhile, boasts mariachi horns for a Mexican feel. On the other end of the score, castanets clatter in "Kitty-Cat Break-Out," and "The Puss Suite" sounds like a passage from a Gipsy Kings record. In between, Jackman is abetted by the Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela on "Diablo Rojo" and "Hanuman." But otherwise the composer moves beyond the Latin styles into a broader orchestral accompaniment sometimes reminiscent of his scores for such other popcorn movies as The Dark Knight and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Jackman understands that in films with overtly cartoonish aspects he is allowed to use overstated and exaggerated effects, bringing them right to the edge of parody without quite going over. That's what he does, for instance, in "That Fateful Night," which is in a heightened mood. Also, of course, his main task is to support what's going on onscreen, and to that end these cues often are really collections of short passages that abruptly shift from one style and mood to another. "The Orphanage," for example, begins in a lighthearted tone, then turns ominous, then lyrical, then stirring as it goes. It's no wonder Jackman cites Debussy as an influence, since he makes use of an Impressionistic impulse in which tonal colors can change suddenly with the present sound bearing little relation to what came before or what will come next. It can work seamlessly in the movies; on disc it's a little frenetic, or, put another way, consistently surprising.

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