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Picks and Pans Review: Film Noir

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Ran Blake

To say this album displays an interesting concept is not to call it enjoyable. Blake, 45, a pianist who runs the “Third Stream” (experimental) department of Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music, lists as influences Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Ives and Thelonius Monk, as well as “the Dream World, racism and especially the exhaustion of long-suppressed anger.” This collection focuses on sound track themes plus some of Blake’s film-inspired compositions. The movies represented are dark—among them The Spiral Staircase, All About Eve, Touch of Evil and The Pawnbroker—and he has captured a feeling of inner torment in the music, albeit with odd rhythms and seeming dissonance that are severe challenges. Still, collectors of movie music might want this LP as a thoughtful variation.