Nearly two decades after [B]Adam Ant[/B] contemporised the highwayman as a sexy-trousered, post-punk pin-up, comes [B]Jake Scott[/B]'s 18th-century adventure flick [I][B]Plunkett & Macleane[/B][/I] in
Nearly two decades after Adam Ant contemporised the highwayman as a sexy-trousered, post-punk pin-up, comes Jake Scott‘s 18th-century adventure flick [I]Plunkett & Macleane[/I] in which [I]Trainspotting [/I]and [I]The Full Monty [/I]stars steal things and smooch Liv Tyler. Its main ingredients are painfully hip, so it’s no surprise the score’s by Craig Armstrong, whose CV boasts arrangements for Massive Attack and an award-Hoovering 1997 [I]Romeo + Juliet [/I]soundtrack.
With 22 tracks spinning from haunting cathedral hymns to looping ambience and fleet-footed dub, Armstrong blends the classical with the iconoclastic, fusing centuries of instrumental tradition into an organic, modern whole. So the baroquely orchestral ‘Escape’ sits easily next to the Eno-esque ‘Resolutions’, which in turn melts into squelch-funk Talking Heads cover ‘Houses In Motion’.
Armstrong‘s work stands on its own gracefully, only loosely signposting the cinematic plot with succinctly descriptive titles like ‘Robbery’ or ‘Love Declared’. Still, the album remains somewhat conscripted by its soundtrack function in that it never asserts itself beyond the undemanding diffidence of background ambience. It is fluid and soothing, never arresting; it doesn’t require its celluloid partner in order to impress, yet you get the feeling that there’s another whole dimension to this music that can only be appreciated with images to match.
So when those dandy highwaymen Plunkett & Macleane demand you stand and deliver at the box office, give ’em your money or your life. It might make a great record even better.