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Album Info



Novocaine

Written by Steve Bartek
"Main Titles" and "I Wish" by Danny Elfman

Recorded at Bastir University Chapel
Performed by Northwest Sinfonia
Recorded and Mixed by Robert Fernandez
Music Editor: Ellen Segal
Orchestration and Conducting by Roy Gabiv
Orchestration: Edgardo Simone

Score Produced by Steve Bartek
TVT Records TVT 6950-2

Danny Elfman has scored more then his fare share of "edge of sanity" films, so when the opportunity to score the dark comedy Novocaine starring Steve Martin appeared, Elfman passed the project onto his orchestrator of 18 years, Steve Bartek, who has written several distinctive scores for films like Cabin Boy, Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion and The Crew - none of which have received full album releases (The Crew soundtrack album, on Milan, features a few cues from Bartek's score). Novocaine marks the first regular release of a Steve Bartek score, with this TVT disc featuring about 30 minutes of his music.


Novocaine

01. Novocaine (4:37)
Performed by Penny
02. Le Monde De Frank Sangster (5:17)
Performed by Mellow
03. Main Titles (1:56)
04. Professional Question (3:15)
05. I Wish... (2:23)
06. Escape From Lance (1:58)
07. Menilmontant (1:39)
08. Tooth Decay (2:23)
09. Little Guys (1:36)
10. Threats and Lies (3:07)
11. The Difference (1:03)
12. The Lightbulb's Out (1:32)
13. The Escape Part 2 (1:43)
14. The Solution (4:33)
15. Menilmontant (3:15)
Performed by Charles Tenet
Total Time: 40:17

Danny Elfman's wacky "Main Titles" sort of set the tone for the rest of the score, and in terms of style and voice, Bartek's music is reminiscent of Elfman's, but the majority of Novocaine is written in a very linear fashion, unlike the style of composing Elfman usually employs. A dark sense of humor runs through Bartek's score, with periodic moments of high-spirits (the whistling, la francais "Menilmontant", and the dentist-drill guitars in "Little Guys") but for the most part, a dark coolness permeates. The (Seattle) orchestra is of relatively good size, but only hits stride a few times ("The Difference", "The Escape Part 2", "The Solution"). The score is written mainly for vibes, percolating sampled percussion (much of it from Elfman's library it sounds), various guitars, and a menacing solo piano ("Tooth Decay").

There are several highlights to Bartek's score, particularly "Threats and Lies", which opens dream-like and gives way to glowering brass calls, which are quickly joined by substantial drum loops and processed synth effects. The final Steve Bartek and Danny Elfmanscore track, "The Solution" features the album's standout highlight - a large orchestral and choral finish that sends the score off on a dark, and sombre note. I was almost knocked out of my chair when I first heard this track, which is both sad and uniquely beautiful. True, the music works to enforce the onscreen disintegration of dentist Frank Sangster's (Steve Martin) life, and Steve Bartek's score might do it's job so well that it sacrifices a bit of listenability. But dammit if Novocaine isn't something new and twisted, and most importantly, different and loaded with personality.

The two Elfman tracks are worthwhile for hardcore collectors (and no, I don't mean folks who consider "collecting" downloading MP3s). While both are somewhat similiar in tone and construction to Elfman's Freeway and To Die For, they feature the great manic quality that makes his music so unique. Really they're just a bonus on top of Bartek's solid, yet demanding score that is sure to please and interest fans of the bizarre film score. - Ryan Keaveney

Special thanks to Matt Nordmeyer for the Steve Bartek photos

Previous features on elfman.filmmusic.com:
  • PLANET OF THE APES - DVD info and unreleased score clips
  • More soundclips from NOVOCAINE available at Amazon.com

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    [This page updated: 01/02/2002]
    All original text 2001, original artwork Ryan Keaveney & Klaatu Media 2001.
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    NOVOCAINE, Music by Steve Bartek and Danny Elfman @ Amazon.com