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April 2000

Pat Metheny
Map of the World
Warner Brothers

Plenty of musicians have crossed over from pop and jazz into the film arena, but few would appear as uniquely suited to the cine-musical task as Pat Metheny, whose cinematic themes and concepts-especially as presented in the context of the Metheny Group-often evoke as-yet-made movies, or at least cinema of the mind. It's surprising that this filmic sensibility hasn't been tapped more often, apart from Falcon and the Snowman and an Italian film two years ago, and now this emotional opus, which has inspired some fine, unpretentious music. Map of the World presents Metheny at his most unabashedly romantic and most redeemably beautiful, adorned with strings and mostly laid out in ringing unplugged tones on his acoustic guitar. The soundtrack itself, broken up into 28 separate tracks and presented without much improvisation, will trigger memories in those who have seen it, but it also functions nicely as a kind of extended suite on its own terms, glowing with bucolic sophistication. Its five-minute opening theme, alone, hints at the gamut of material and mood shifts to come, like an overture, and he uses the orchestral elements in a concerto-like way. All in all, it's an essay in musical sweetness and melancholy, full of those gently tweaked Metheny-esque harmonic turns and melodies that seem to suggest a heartland of hope.

Originally published in April 2000
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