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Angels In America (Music from the HBO Film)

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Album Review

Already associated with HBO for his award-winning Six Feet Under theme, the network tapped Thomas Newman to compose the music for Angels in America, its much-publicized, star-heavy adaptation of the Tony Kushner play. Totaling just over 70 minutes, the soundtrack weaves together pieces short and long, intimate and bold to help tell an elaborate story of AIDS in the '80s and angels in our world. It opens with "Threshold of Revelation," where snatches of vocal are drowned in the unsettling roar of a trumpet fanfare. Only a minute long, it nevertheless gets at what it might feel like — amazing, scary, and beautiful all at once — to be visited by an angel. Especially if you think it's just the pills talking, as one character in the film does. But as tense as "Threshold" and selections like the brooding "Ramble" or the bold, odd "Black Angel" are, Newman fills the film's main title with an irrepressible sense of hope. Its lilting melody is immediately addicting, its shimmering corners awash in sunlight. In fact, the entirety of Angels in America seems to shimmer, whether it's moving to the stirring strains of a choir ("The Infinite Descent") or getting a bit whimsical while suggesting the main theme's melody ("Pill Poppers"). Like the film itself, Newman's music finds ways to be not quite of this world, while at the same time grappling with very real issues and universal emotions. It's also incredibly literate and invariably classy, as you'd expect anything associated with something as big-time as Angels to be. As he did with the music for The Shawshank Redemption, Newman expertly plays these varying elements and moods off of one another without ever losing sight of the personal hope that seems to ultimately drive the characters. A lone violin fades in during "Quartet"; it's either mournful or insistent, depending on how tense you take the supporting piano chording to be. Whatever the emotions elicited by Newman's score, it's as audacious — and successful — as the film itself.

Customer Reviews

Thomas Newman is a god!

Thomas Newman may not be God, but he surely is one of God's favorite angels for creating such heavenly music. ANGELS IN AMERICA is one of Newman's most interesting scores. OTHERWORLDLY! Another minimalist album on iTunes that may interest Thomas Newman fans is APOURIA: THE FIREFLY TREE (demo sessions).

A MUSICAL MASTERPIECE!!

This is one of the most beautiful and inspiring film scores around today! This is music making at its finest. I'm really glad that he left the band "The Innocents" back in the 80s to pursue film scoring, because it is definitely in his blood and he's a master at it. I'm also happy to see some young and upcoming composers on the scene, like Nico Muhly, Abel Korzeniowski, Kerry Muzzey, and one of my new favorites, Josh Kramer, who's "Beginnings" album has been on repeat on my iPod lately. And definitely check out "The Reader" for those of you who like the brooding and pensive stuff.

Unbelievably Amazing

This score (along with the mini-series itself) is one-of-a-kind. The music is absolutely beautiful and Thomas Newman captures every feeling of hopelessness, sadness, and happiness in each and every song. I cannot express how beautiful this soundtrack really is. Buy it for yourself and take a listen - it is worth every penny! So beautiful and breath-taking.

Biography

Born: October 20, 1955 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A second-generation member of Hollywood's preeminent musical dynasty, composer Thomas Newman carried on his family's legacy through a series of Academy Award-nominated film scores. He was born in Los Angeles on October 20, 1955, the son of Alfred Newman and the nephew of Lionel and Emil Newman, all three renowned composers and conductors from Hollywood's golden age. (Thomas' brother David also followed in the family business, as did their cousin, the sardonic singer/songwriter Randy Newman.) Thomas...
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