Journey through the outback

Peter Gabriel - The Long Walk Home - The Rabbit-Proof Fence
Peter Gabriel – The Long Walk Home – The Rabbit-Proof Fence
Peter Gabriel

The Long Walk Home – The Rabbit-Proof Fence (Real
World/Narada, 2002)

Die hard Peter Gabriel fans and collectors of international movie soundtracks are in for a bit of a treat. Combining his interests in human rights issues and world music, Gabriel returns to scoring movies with his second movie soundtrack–this time for Australian director Phillip Noyce and adapted from Doris Pilkington Garimara’s novel, Rabbit Proof Fence. The fare offered here is dark, ambient and
at times recalls Pink Floyd’s The Wall sans the vocals. However, upon reading the film’s synopsis in which 3 half-caste girls are abducted from their home in the Australian outback and spirited away 1,5000 miles where they are forced to attend a school for indentured servants, hardly calls for lively tunes. The girls, led by Molly, a 14 year old aboriginal woman risks everything as they escape and make the long journey home.

The story is based on true events.Be warned that The Long Walk Home is a film soundtrack and so the music here was produced to move a story along, build tension in the right places and create atmosphere. Often times with musical soundtracks, the music acts as a character (The Red Violin is a good example). However, musical soundtracks work best when we actually watch the movie in which the score originated and Gabriel’s soundtrack doesn’t offer you the songwriter’s signature lyrics or vocal
opportunities. Instead, you are rewarded with an array of guest musicians from such acts as The Dhol Foundation, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The London Session Orchestra and Electra Strings.

Gabriel along with collaborators David Rhodes and Richard Evans (also collaborated with Gabriel on the score for Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ) texturize their score with Aboriginal percussion, bird songs, chants, wailing vocals and didgeridoo compliments of Ganga Giri. This down under atmosphere was recorded in studios in England and you can easily imagine international musicians traipsing in and out of the studio where the master was hard at work.

Gabriel adds his signature vocals to two of the tracks, Sky Blue (reprise) and Cloudless in which The Blind Boys of Alabama augment Gabriel’s vocals. But, this CD is sadly absent of poetic lyrics and its collaborative spirit allows no single musician to stand out, but instead reveals to us an ego less musical project in which the film’s story takes precedence. The Long Walk Home affords us many haunting and beautiful moments, but as soon as we find comfort in the score’s subtlety it literally blows up in our faces(this is a compliment).

The multi-talented Gabriel understands how to embellish a screenplay with music that evokes a variety of heartfelt emotions.

(Formerly published on Cranky Crow World Music).