David Byrne is best known for his work with Talking Heads, Eno, a smash hit last year with X-Press 2, and his label, Luaka Bop. It's less well-known that he co-wrote the score for The Last Emperor (despite the fact it won him an Oscar) and has worked with theatre experimentalist Robert Wilson.

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David Byrne is best known for his work with Talking Heads, Eno, a smash hit last year with X-Press 2, and his label, Luaka Bop. It’s less well-known that he co-wrote the score for The Last Emperor (despite the fact it won him an Oscar) and has worked with theatre experimentalist Robert Wilson. And if you took a straw poll, how many people would know he was born in Dumbarton, Scotland?

All this is relevant because he’s scored the much-discussed David Mackenzie film Young Adam, based on a novel by cult Scottish beatnik (there’s three words you don’t often find in succession) author Alexander Trocchi. Grim, grimy and, well, Scottish, it’s said to be dark and raw. Tragically, it stars talentless, mollycoddled oaf Ewan McGregor, but then you can’t have everything. After returning to Scotland to write the music, Byrne has gone for authenticity by recording his score with an ensemble of Glaswegian musicians drawn from such indie enclaves as Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian, The Delgados and The Reindeer Section. And an impressively restrained, classy, low-flame-simmering job they make of it.

Until Byrne comes in, late on, with a muted warble on “Speechless”, this is an instrumental mood piece, possibly justifying use of the oversubscribed word “ambient”. It begins, and you think it’s just an ongoing background warble. But it builds with real guile and grace, and from the halfway point it’s as mournfully elegant as anything in the soundtrack genre this year. Tracks like “Warm Sheets”, “Dirty Hair” and “Ineluctable” are half-awake and wholly lovely. “At its best,” Byrne’s said, “it almost invisibly blends with background sounds…the docks, the plates, the dishes, the sex. Maybe it’s not even noticeable as ‘music’…”But it is, and after its spookily tentative openings, the violins and delicately gathering rhythms start making sense. Sincere and beautiful.