Rock Dog

Musical Score By: Rolfe Kent

Songs By: Various Artists

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the animated film, Rock Dog, Bodi (Luke Wilson) is the son of Khampa (JK Simmons), leader of the Tibetan Mastiffs of Snow Mountain.  The Mastiffs have had one major job to perform on Snow Mountain: to guard the village’s wool-making sheep from the wolf Linnux (Lewis Black) and his pack.  To avoid distractions, music has been banned from the mountain, but when Bodi finds a radio dropped by a passing airplane, Bodi discovers his passion: to be a rock ‘n’ roll star.  This means defying Khampa and heading into the city to locate legendary reclusive musician Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard) and get him to write a song that his hastily put together band can make a hit out of.  But the wolves are plotting to take over Snow Mountain.  Will Bodi give up his rock star dreams to save his home?

                The musical score of Rock Dog was created by Rolfe Kent, a British composer who has created musical score for over fifty films.  Working in his studio, he is surrounded by a collection of musical instruments from all around the world that rank from the exotic to the rather unusual, including the Indonesian percussion instrument known as the angklung, an instrument initially used by the military as a psychological weapon known as the shawm and the melodica.  Kent is known for the music he has created for Up in the Air, Sideways, Labor Day, Bad Words, Election, Mean Girls, Legally Blonde, Wedding Crashers and more, in addition to the original title theme for Dexter.

                According to Kent, “The story needed to have that sense of the exotic- that we had left Western society and gone somewhere different, somewhere mountainous, but not country specific.  To that end I explored different instruments and sounds. You know, the music needed to have that interesting ethnographic colour, but still sound like a movie score.”  Despite that, and knowing nothing of the film, I instantly thought of Tibetan monks as I listened to the orchestral score mixed with exotic sound.  This is explained By Kent: “He [Bodi] plays a Dramyen in the film.  I listened to that and also went through collections of Tibetan and Mongolian flutes and horns and drums. Mongolian music has lots of very usable elements that work well for a western ear.  I wove some great wooden flutes into the fabric of the music, and some Asian cymbals and drums, and we had some fascinating days recording all these incredible players live… I always loved the sound of Yo-Yo Ma’s sliding cello in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and for Bodi’s father, Khampa, who is a Kung Fu master after all, I used solo cello in a similar style, with the softly sad glissandos of the cello revealing his gentler side, and how he misses his son. This theme keeps coming back each time we revisit Khampa.”

                Thus, the score of Rock Dog contains a great deal of exotic flutes, exotic drums and strings.  Every once in a while, you might hear a snippet of guitar.  This disappointed me a bit.  Not to say that I didn’t enjoy the exotic music found on this soundtrack, but the movie is called Rock Dog and there isn’t a single rock track on the album.  The closest we get is the jazz used to describe the wolves.  I really enjoyed the final track is an original song by Adam Friedman called Glorious.  The song speaks of a love that will surmount any obstacle, so long as they are together – “We’ll grow old / And we’ll never be alone / And no matter where we roam / We’ll be glorious.”

                I enjoyed the Rock Dog Soundtrack, though I do wish there was some actual rock music to be heard on the album.  The exotic sound speaks perfectly to the locale of the film and the final track is an awesome song.  The album is definitely worth checking out if you just ignore the title.


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