After his success with the score for THE MAN FROM UNCLE composer Daniel Pemberton returns with another top-notch soundtrack to GOLD. At first many collectors feared that the soundtrack release would be a song album only, but thankfully the score has been issued. Of course, for anyone interested the songs are available on the Varese Sarabande release. GOLD is based upon actual events but of course many of these have been altered and somewhat expanded upon. Directed by Award winning filmmaker, Stephen Gaghan (SYRIANA), the movie stars Matthew McConaughey as Kenny Wells who is determined to follow in the traditional family business which had been established by his Father played by Craig T Nelson who we see in various flashbacks. Kenny is presented as a down and out of luck hustler who is desperate to re-enter the business of acquiring precious metals, but for this he needs money, which he is begging for from whoever will listen. He travels to Borneo to seek out a river walker Mike Acosta played so convincingly by Edgar Ramirez and the story builds from there, but I won’t spoil it for you go see it, although you may find McConaughey’s character a little irritating because of his incessant chatting. Pemberton’s score is filled with varied and alluring melodies and styles, and ranges from jazz sounding rhythms which are overrun with beats and frantic pulses to subdued and calming guitar solos. There is also apprehension, drama and a sense of hopelessness purveyed within the score. The composer utilising fast paced percussive elements at time to relay an urgent and anxious musical persona. One of my favourite cues is track number 19, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MIKE ACOSTA, which for me personally evoked memories of the quieter moments in the score for the 1970’s western BLUE by Greek composer Manos Hajidakis, the combination of guitar with underlying strings and finally more pronounced use of the string section is effective, emotive and highly lyrical. Pemberton makes effectual use of the percussive instrumentation throughout the work, often this being the foundation of the various themes included within the score. Which is certainly more pronounced in track number 20, RING OF FIRE 3, THE REVEAL, which begins with bass guitar that is joined by various percussion including drums, shakers, and bells, he then introduces strings in the background which carry the percussion along punctuating and embellishing it, woodwind is also put into the mix guitar and bass guitar providing a throbbing and continuous back beat.
Another delightful cue is track number 21. BLUE SKIES, solo guitar once again takes the centre stage to open the track but soon becomes a lilting background for a charming chiming effect which picks out the four-note motif that is underlined by subdued strings. The final cue is KEEP DIGGING (GOLD). This is more up-tempo and has about it a Spanish Latin feel and to be fair could be out of a Spaghetti Western score. Overall, GOLD is entertaining and enjoyable listen and for me adds even more credence to Pemberton’s credentials as a composer of film music. Next up for the composer is KING ARTHUR, now that will certainly be interesting.