Like many composers in Hollywood, Jeff Rona has a far more complicated filmography than simply a list of major motion pictures and TV shows. Before scoring the Traffic mini-series, he contributed cues to the Traffic film. Before collaborating with Lisa Gerrard on last year’s A Thousand Roads, he contributed to Black Hawk Down, which also featured Gerrard’s voice, better known to pop fans for its centrality to the group Dead Can Dance (Rona conducted an orchestra for some recent DCD performances in New York and Los Angeles). His credits include full scores to dark fare, such as The Mothman Prophecies and Exit Wounds, and he worked, earlier still, on Powaqqatsi, one of Philip Glass’ collaborations with director Godfrey Reggio.
This range of work suggests why, perhaps, unlike such contemporaries as John Powell and David Holmes, Rona has a somewhat less than immediately recognizable style, though much of his work is marked by a mix of synthesizers and strings, and it’s not uncommon for a single, slight instrument to carry the main melodic line. More than many of his peers, he posts entire cues on his website, jeffrona.com, for free download. Key among the recent ones are the title cut of A Thousand Roads (MP3), on which an indigenous backing vocal is treated like a lo-fi sample, bringing to mind everything from Moby’s Play to Ennio Morricone’s work on The Mission, as well as two from the forthcoming Slow Burn: “Masks” (MP3), a delicate swath of cinematic foundation-laying, and “5AM” (MP3), a classic bit of thriller alarmism.