If twin-brother filmmakers Allen and Albert Hughes wanted to deliberately mess with their reputation as masters of the contemporary black urban milieu, they couldn't have chosen a better vehicle than a faithful adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel and its ominous exploits of notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper on the shadowy streets of Victorian London. This soundtrack album opens with the "Wormwood Remix" of Marilyn Manson's Holy Wood
single "The Nobodies," an obvious bow to contemporary marketing that nevertheless sets the proper tone with its bleak ethos and jagged rhythms.
But it's the dark, brooding score of largely unsung South African composer Trevor Jones that's the real focus here. Jones's masterful use of orchestral color and pacing, punctuated by slight percussive, choral, and electronic flourishes, paints a musical landscape as bleak as it is suspenseful. The composer's use of melody is spare, deliberate, and minor key, helping to infuse the score with a very human sense of melancholy even as it tightens the screws of dramatic tension. The concluding track, "Bow Belle (Absinthium)," offers up the strangest treat: a swirling, psychedelic cocktail of twisted, 19th-century ballroom gentility and contemporary digital sorcery that seems to crackle through a gramophone player. --Jerry McCulley