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The Driver by Lorne Balfe (Review)

posted Oct 21, 2014, 4:35 PM by Kaya Savas

Lorne Balfe is a very incredible chameleon of a composer. He can disappear behind the narrative so seamlessly and adapts his voice to a particular world, that in some cases you’d be hard-pressed to pick out his music from a line-up. The Driver is a 3-part BBC miniseries starring David Morrissey, who is most known to American audiences as the Governor from The Walking Dead. Here he plays a struggling taxi driver who accepts a deal to drive for a crime-boss, and ends up getting wrapped up in a dark twisted world. Balfe takes a unique electronic-based approach to the series and creates a constant simmering tension that stretches itself across the course of the story. Also, listening to this right after listening to Lorne's Skylanders: Trap Team score establishes even more so his great range as a composer.

This isn’t a bold score, so don’t expect it to be. What this score does so well is exist right under the surface without ever breaking it. The suspense and tension carries, and keeps stretching itself throughout. The album starts simply enough, by establishing the character of Vince. What seems to be a straining vocal that borderlines a dying siren or a wailing cry appears as a motif. The trickling tones never break during that opening track, and then we segway into the deeper brooding identity that the score takes. The score always has this continuous and brooding layer running under it, while the bizarre and sometimes off-key electronic tones break it up to create this uneasiness. The score can feel dreamlike and almost put you in a trance at times, but it’s pushing you forward. There is a juxtaposition going on with the more percussive hits and then the more emotionally drawing music going on underneath, it’s definitely a soundscape I found myself being pulled further into as the score moved along. Everything culminates with a more melodically driven final track that ends everything on an intense note.

The Driver is a unique little crime drama to be roped into. The series and even Balfe’s score may draw some comparisons to Drive starring Ryan Gosling, especially since the trailer for The Driver utilizes a song used in Drive. However, this is probably one of the more unique scores I’ve heard from Balfe, and it’s a completely absorbing score that works on a different level than most. It’s not extremely stylized, but to the point where it has a certain weight to it. The score is simple in terms of the different elements being utilized, and that makes the motifs very easy to latch onto. The score’s goal is to absorb you into this story, not necessarily emotionally sculpt arcs to guide you. It’s a precisely crafted score for sure and displays Balfe’s ability to hone in on certain things. If I had to describe this score visually, imagine a lake under an overcast sky with a light but steady rain coming down. You have this giant mass that moves in waves and currents, with a trickling of other elements being added to it from above. Definitely worth a listen.