Incidental Music

Incidental Music: def. (noun)- music used in a film as a background to create or enhance a particular atmosphere, otherwise known as a score

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Bunch of Score Reviews!

Good day, delightful readers! It's a sunny day for me at home right now. The semester is finally over and I'm looking forward to a summer of adventure and learning. And of course, listening to lots of music! Here's my reviews of the scores I listened to while studying for my finals during the past two weeks :) 
The Host, by Antonio Pinto-7/10
 Did it fit the movie? Yes, very well. It captured that sense of wonder accompanied with confusion, sadness, and fear, all important elements of the plot of the movie (and of the book, which I have read multiple times. Although Stephanie Meyer is better known for Twilight, I personally like The Host more! It's a better story.)  Pinto uses electronic sounds and strings mostly, with a tiny bit of guitar.
Did it make me feel something? Yes: depressed, content, amazed, happy, peaceful, worried, confused. This score is very easy to listen to and very emotive-it plays well in the background but still had the ability to draw me out of my work to re-listen to moments that captured my attention.

 Was it original? Hm, maybe? It did remind me of a Carter Burwell oscore r Thomas Newman score as far as instrumentation goes, but some things were definitely original. For example, there's this sound that Pinto uses (hear it on I'm Alive) that is really intriguing and new. It sounds like a drop of water might sound if it made a musical note.
Did I like it? Yes, I did, a little. I liked how it was easy to listen to yet still captivating. My one gripe, as usual, is that there weren't strong melodies throughout. There were some, but they were very understated and not well developed. I think Pinto is new to the Hollywood scoring world,  so I'm interested to see where his career goes from here. Purchasing suggestion? Spotify! Or buy the tracks you like. My favorites were: One Strange World, Soul Inside, and Goodbye Wanderer.  

The Place Beyond the Pines by Mike Patton-7.5/10
 Did it fit the movie? Yes, I think so, but in a really surprising and unexpected way. It was very gritty music, appropriate for a crime drama, but at the same time ethereal, due to Patton's use of a choir effect accompanied by synthesizer and electric guitar! So weird.
Did it make me feel something? Yes, it made me feel uncomfortable! The clash of the choir and guitar, in addition to the dissonant chords Patton implemented made for a somewhat unsettling experience. I felt tense much of the time while listening to the score, which was probably Patton's intent. 

 Was it original? Yes, it was original! The use of the choral voices made it very atypical, as well as the other sounds and instruments he used. I heard harp in there, as well as cricket-ish noises on one of the tracks. It was pretty cool.
 Did I like it? Yes, in terms of artistry. I liked the electric guitar and choir thing a lot because that was new and exciting. No, in terms of listening. It was too  hard to listen to by itself. Again, one of the times where context is very important. I did like some tracks though-Bromance, Evergreen, and Forest of Conscience were all really cool. Final verdict: The score is definitely worth a listen on Spotify to appreciate the artsy-ness of it :) 

The Company You Keep-Cliff Martinez-5/10
Did it fit the movie? Yes, I think it did. The movie is a political thriller, dealing with ethical issues and trying to right injustices. The music suits that-It's contemplative, the sounds of someone's mind turning and thinking-guitar, electronic sounds, some strings/orchestral interludes.
Did it make me feel something? I can't really tell. The first time I listened to the score, I started the music , began studying for my Microbiology Exam and then suddenly the score was over. It put me in this "zen-like" mood. The music went along with my thoughts and didn't really intrude on them. That's why I describe it as contemplative music.
Was it original? Again, I'm not sure. I don't think so. There weren't any strong melodies or weird instruments or anything to make it stand out. That's why I think I listened to it straight through without consciously realizing it was playing. None of the tracks really stood out to me.
Did I like it? Yes, for studying purposes and getting in work mode. No for buying tracks. In context, I think it suits the movie very well and works well accompanying the scenes onscreen, but it's just background music otherwise. Nothing stands out. Listen on Spotify!
42 by Mark Isham-8.5/10

Did it fit the movie? Yes indeed. It's music meant to inspire, a full orchestra with the horn sections often carrying the melody and the strings accompanying on most tracks. 
Did it make me feel something? Yeah :) It's very emotion-filled music. It makes me feel a sense of victorious overcoming, rising above, defeating adversity. (Definitely helpful for studying for finals!)  Normally, strings and piano pull at my heart more than anything else, and Isham does use those instruments on a few tracks but he uses primarily horns for his heart tugging melodies. I enjoyed that. 
Was it original? Hm, not as much. It does sound like a score for a sports movie, and although I mean that in the best possible way, it diminishes the originality of it a little. Isham's melodies are definitely original, but the style isn't.
Did I like it? I most certainly did! It's a feel good score, made for a feel good movie. It's very relaxing to listen to and leaves you content and inspires when it's over. Purchasing suggestion? Listen on Spotify unless you fall in love with the music and want it forever :) My favorite tracks are Jackie Robinson, Jackie is Brought Up, and You Are A Hero. 

Oblivion by M83, Anthony Gonzalez, and Joseph Trapanese-5/10
Did it fit the movie? Yep: definitely has the post-apocalyptic feel to it. Lots of electronic sounds, hard gritty tones, ethereal strings, guitar, and strong, rhythmic percussion. 
Did it make me feel something? No, not really. Earth 2077 captured my imagination-it made me want to see what Earth in 2077 looks like. But for the most part, I didn't really feel much. This score is for an action movie, designed to produce lots of tension, uncertainty, and suspense. It's really hard to "feel" that outside of watching the movie if the score isn't really anything original or surprising which leads me to my next point...
Was it original? No. It reminded me A LOT of Hans Zimmer's scores for the Batman movies or Inception, just not as good. It lacked strong melodies and original sounds. 
Did I like it? No. I hoped that I would because I thought it was cool that M83 was scoring a movie! But alas, I didn't like it. Purchasing suggestion? Listen on YouTube or Spotify. It's not a hard score to listen to, and it plays very nicely in the background. It just didn't seem original or particularly striking to me. 

The Bible, by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe-9/10
Did it fit the miniseries? Heck yes. I've been reading the Bible all my life, and the music here is exactly the kind of music that I would write if I were scoring the stories in the Bible. Full orchestra, lots of Middle Eastern instruments, beautiful vocal work by Lisa Gerrard-perfection.
Did it make me feel something? Yes-peaceful, content, hopeful, happy, excited, inspired, adventurous. There were so many moments in this score that stopped me from studying altogether. I sat back, closed my eyes, and let the music wash over me. It brought tears to my eyes. A major part of thiis intense emotional experience is definitely Lisa Gerrard's voice. Her voice singing at the end of Gladiator makes me cry every time and hearing her sing here has the same effect on me.
Was it original? Yes. Although it sounds similar to Gladiator in some parts, there is an overpowering use of strings and choir here that differentiates it from Zimmer's other works. There's really no one else that I can compare Zimmer to, though. His work is always entirely his own and his style is evident in everything he writes. 
Did I like it? Do I even need to answer this one? Yes, I liked it!  In fact, I loved it and bought it as soon as I was done listening to it. The only reason that it didn't get a 10/10 is because some of the tracks are repetitive and sound similar. I wonder if that has something to do with the convention of scoring a miniseries. Since the episodes are spaced apart, it might be helpful to play the same melodies over again to draw the series together as a cohesive whole. I don't know. In any case, I loved it. I don't have a favorite track-they're all my favorite. Here's the first track to get you started! 
 Wow! That was a lot of score reviews! Let me know your thoughts on all these scores in the comments section and on Sunday, check back here for your composer of the month! :)


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