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Iris - Cirque De Soleil by Danny Elfman (Review)

posted Dec 5, 2011, 6:53 PM by Koray Savas

While Danny Elfman has always been one of my favorite composers, I have found most of his recent film work to be lackluster. Wanted, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Milk, NotoriousTerminator SalvationTaking Woodstock, The Wolfman, Alice In Wonderland, and The Next Three Days all had redeeming factors to a certain degree, but they did not feel like the Elfman I knew and loved. The past three years have been on-and-off in terms of his style, ranging from his traditional sound with long-time collaborators Gus Van Sant and Tim Burton, to a more modern approach to film scoring with projects like Wanted and Terminator Salvation. Whether that shift in compositional style has ended remains to be seen, but it surely gets thrown out the window for a superb 1 hour and 7 minutes with his music for Cirque De Soleil's Iris.

Iris as a show is a live action tribute to the history of film, and Elfman delivers an album that explores a wide range of musical styles and tones to complement those visuals. It harkens back to his signature style from his early years with Tim Burton, but with a much greater sense of development and maturity. The music has that inherent sense of fun Elfman does so well, but with a much more rich and emotionally involving palette of themes and melodies. As an album, the pacing is near flawless. The music builds towards the gorgeous track, "Scarlett Balancing," which is Elfman's modern day equivalent of "Ice Dance" from Edward Scissorhands, and then concludes with the outstanding "Iris Finale And Bows."

Elfman spent close to three years working on Iris, and it shows. He describes it as a "surrealistic tribute to cinema," but I hear a beautiful combination of a talented composer's career thus far. I don't consider many of Elfman's scores masterpieces, but this is easily his greatest achievement since Big Fish back in 2003. Iris can be purchased through Cirque De Soleil's official site, as well as Amazon.