Jocelyn Pook is not the most familiar name in film music, yet slowly she is establishing an enviable reputation as a composer well able to meet the demands of any film genre. With her score to "Brick Lane" Pook has declared a commitment to authenticity, which far exceeds the usual Hollywood standards. The film is based upon the best selling novel of Monica Ali, and tells the story of a Bangladeshi woman Nazneem, who at a young age leaves her family behind to enter an arranged marriage with an older man. The film contrasts the new life of Nazneem in East London with flashbacks to the life she left behind with her sister in Bangladesh. The main part of the plot picks up the story several years later when Nazneem, now with a teenage family, begins a relationship which leads to a re-examination of many personal and cultural questions. Fittingly Pook's music is very much a fusion of Eastern and Western styles. While no-one at mfiles is an expert on Bangladeshi musical culture, significant parts of the film's music, instrumentation and vocal delivery sound very convincing indeed, adding considerably to the viewer's experience.
Many tracks feature vocals by a variety of singers, sometimes in the lead part as in the songs "Adam's Lullaby", "Song of the Boatman"and "Tapur Tapur", and some of these songs are based on or inspired by traditional Bengali songs and children's rhymes. On other occasions the vocals play very much a supporting role with litle or no lyrics, an example being "Memories of a Summer" which is largely instrumental beginning on sitar with both female and male vocal playing minor roles in the overall mix. Some instrumental tracks utilise appropriate ethnic instruments such as "Poem", whereas "A World Changed" consists of orchestral strings and harp, which also feature throughout the score with solo string instruments also making regular appearances. While many tracks are atmospheric or thoughtful in nature, "Running through the Night" is a rhythmic track with strings and percussion. There is a running thematic strand played on a solo sarod (a sitar-like instrument from the northern Indian continent) which occurs on a number of tracks and brings unity to the score, with "Picnic at the Palace" being the prime example which explores this theme in greater depth. Pook herself plays viola on some tracks and piano on others, and contributes some vocals to the track called "Dreaming".
All in all this is a very satisfying album, and showcases the composer's versatility. The film was first released in the UK so the CD is already available there at: Amazon.co.uk. Though the film is not due for release in the US until June 20th this summer, an import version of the soundtrack is listed at Amazon.com.