The soundtrack to Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter boasts an expansive folk/international mix tailored made for the film's atmospheric study of loss and guilt. Featuring original material by Mychael Danna, the disc spotlights the wan vocal talents of Sarah Polley (who also appears in the film and contributes some music and lyrics here) enveloped in lean and ethereal backdrops; the accompaniment comes courtesy of the Toronto Consort and a combo that includes Danna on Harmonium and Kim Deschamps on pedal steel. Also on hand are ney player extraordinaire Hossein Omoumi and flautist Ron Korb, both of whom fit snug on the many Middle Eastern-flavored sides they guest on. In addition to the Danna material, the soundtrack also features numbers by Jane Siberry and the Tragically Hip.
When veteran film composer Mychael Danna entered 2006, he probably thought his tradition-drenched, Renaissance-inspired score to this film about the opening chapter of "the greatest story ever told" would be heard by more people than the quirkier one he wrote for Little Miss Sunshine. But Sunshine was a Best Picture Oscar nominee and this one proved to be just a reasonably popular Jesus story. Recorded in Los Angeles, The Nativity Story score artfully blends native Middle Eastern instruments like Persian and Turkish ney flutes with more traditional pre-Baroque European ones like the viola de gamba, vielle, harp, and recorders. Danna's dual intent seemed to be to ground the story in its geographical roots while also underscoring the power the story had over the Western world in subsequent centuries.
Written and recorded by brothers Mychael & Jeff Danna between their other scoring projects, A Celtic Tale is the soundtrack to an imaginary film of the Irish legend of Deirdre. Both the album and the legend reflect many aspects of love and sorrow. The Danna brothers mix Celtic folk, symphonic, and ambient music into a distinctive and fitting setting for Deirdre's star-crossed story. Though she is betrothed to a king, Deirdre finds her true love; she and her lover are exiled. When they try to return to their land, Deirdre's lover is killed, and she is imprisoned by the king she was to marry. Love and war blend in Deirdre's story; similarly, the music combines authentic Celtic instruments such as fiddle, tin whistle, flute, uilleann and highland pipes, and wire-strung harp with orchestral power and electronic atmospherics. Both listenable and powerful, A Celtic Tale showcases the Dannas' skill for creating emotionally accessible, technically beautiful music.
Monsoon Wedding is Mychael Danna's second collaboration with film director Mira Nair, (Kama Sutra was the first), and he has again compiled a winning soundtrack. Danna explores a wide range of emotions, from solemn to celebratory, through different generations of Indian culture. The contemplative "Good Indian Girls" and "Hold Me, I'm Falling" feature Danna's trademark piano ambience over traditional Indian instrumentation, and the vivacious "Baraat" sounds like a Punjabi variation on Dixieland, while "Delhi.com" ventures into dreamy ethno-techno territory. Sukhwinder Singh's "Today My Heart Desires" serves up lively bhangra rock, and Laxmikant Pyarelal's "Today the Weather Plays Tricks on Me" (performed by Mohammed Rafi) swoons with strings and male vocals. In all, the soundtrack's pleasing variety of Eastern music mirrors the film's old and new worlds living within a singular culture.